Official singles chart to include streaming services

Bastille The UK's most streamed track ever belongs to Bastille with Pompeii

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Songs played on streaming services like Spotify and Deezer will count towards the UK's singles chart from July, the Official Charts Company has announced.

Music streaming doubled in popularity in the UK between 2013 and 2014, from 100 million to 200 million streams a week, currently averaging 260 million.

Bastille's track Pompeii is the UK's most streamed track ever, but only made number two in the singles countdown.

Charts boss Martin Talbot said the move was "about future-proofing the charts".

The BBC's Rebecca Jones talks to Martin Talbot of the Official Charts Company

"So far this year we've seen nine tracks which have been streamed more than one million times in a week. Last year there were only two tracks that had reached that kind of level," said Mr Talbot.

"So we're seeing a huge growth, up 50% in the first half of this year."

He told the BBC the Official Charts Company had been looking into the idea for "some time" but felt now was the right moment, suggesting it echoed how they had already "evolved" over the years in response to the popularity of vinyl, cassettes, CDs and downloads.

Daft Punk Daft Punk's Get Lucky was the most streamed track last year in the UK

Streaming services Spotify, Deezer, Napster, 02 Tracks, Music Unlimited, Rara and Xbox Music - most of which charge subscribers a monthly fee to listen to unlimited music - will now provide compilers with weekly data.

The first chart to include streams will air on BBC Radio 1 on Sunday 6 July, with 100 streams of a song counting as the equivalent of one single purchased.

"This is a far greater shift in emphasis than has ever happened before," music journalist Fraser McAlpine told the BBC.

UK audio streams per quarter

"No one ever asked pop fans how many times they played the singles they took home.

"In a sense, it's a lot fairer, because the chart becomes a measurement of the genuine excitement around certain songs, and how that changes over time even after people have started to listen privately.

"It's the first time plays would count towards something larger in cultural terms, rather than just being the most-played track on a single service."

Broader range

However, it is unlikely to make much difference at the top of the chart.

Two tracks, Rather Be by Clean Bandit and Waves by Mr Probz, have passed the 1.5 million weekly streams barrier so far this year and both have also spent time at number one in the singles chart.

Daft Punk's Get Lucky was the UK's most streamed track last year and the second biggest-selling single of the year.

"By and large the most streamed tracks are the same as the most sold tracks," said Talbot.

"The changes you see are towards the bottom end of the top 10 and further down the chart."

It is artists such as Alt-J who stand to benefit. The Mercury Prize-winners are 14th most-streamed act in the UK, but their highest-charting single to date is Breezeblocks, which only reached number 75 in 2012.

'We've finally got to the point where streaming is mainstream", says Spotify

"It's nice for bands who maybe don't make much impact on the singles charts, like us," Gus Unger-Hamilton from Alt-J told Radio 4's Today programme.

"If people listen to a band's album a lot [on a streaming service] it will gradually contribute to each of those song's performance in the singles chart."

Start Quote

It is a coming of age for streaming services, an indication that the industry accepts and understands streaming is here to stay”

End Quote Martin Talbot Official Charts Company

He added: "If young people are going to think the charts are relevant to them and the music they listen to then this has got to be a step."

Mark Goodier, a former host of the Radio 1 chart show, said the countdown was still "incredibly important" for both bands and the music business.

"It's also really important for the fans, if they like One Direction or Pharrell Williams, to know where that is relative to everybody else.

"We like lists, it's very important that they're credible. [Streaming] is how the kids are choosing to consume their music, so this is a very positive move."

Analysis by Rebecca Jones, BBC arts correspondent

This change is significant, but not just because it breaks the 62-year link between buying a piece of music and its position in the charts.

It will give a more accurate representation of what people are listening to. But by incorporating only audio streams, and omitting the billions of video views on sites like YouTube, the picture will still not be complete.

The move does represent a coming of age for streaming services and a deeper acceptance of them by the music industry.

But there is little to suggest the change will actually have much impact on which song goes to the top of the charts.

In tests carried out by the Official Charts Company over the last 18 months, the inclusion of streaming services made a difference to the Number One single only once, and the top five songs remained largely the same.

Ed Sheeran and Jameela Jamil Jameela Jamil hosts the Official Chart Show on Radio 1 - seen here with former number one Ed Sheeran

Other countries including Sweden, Germany and the US have already started including streaming in their sales charts, with America's Billboard chart announcing its changes in October 2012.

The Official Charts Company said the change would reflect a wider range of music listeners.

"We looked at the records that benefitted and it was a real broad range from the Arctic Monkeys to, from Aviici to Imagine Dragons," said Mr Talbot.

YouTube video streams will not be included in the countdown, although the Official Charts Company has said it will regularly review the situation.

"A video stream is not the same as an audio stream - some people watch a video for different reasons from the reasons they'd listen to an audio track," said Mr Talbot.

'Coming of age'

Each track will have to be played for 30 seconds before it counts as one stream.

To avoid fans "gaming" the system, only 10 plays will be counted per user, per day.

A new Official Breakers Chart is also being launched to reflect the ten fastest growing new tracks according to sales and streams.

"This a significant moment in the history of the official singles chart, and as a result it's also a very significant moment in the music industry as well," said Mr Talbot.

"It is a coming of age for streaming services, an indication that the industry accepts and understands streaming is here to stay."

The first Official Singles Chart to include streams will air on BBC Radio 1 on Sunday 6 July, between 16:00-19:00 BST.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    86 - Pochettinos Army

    Sadly, you are right, but please don't ever lose the obvious enjoyment & buzz you get from good music. Unlike Cowell's poor taste, appreciation of good music is a lifelong thing.

    And you? A DJ who doesn't play "toons" fer 10 year olds! Well done & put as much good music out there as you can

    Far better to be in a tasteful minority than a tasteless majority

    Rock on!

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    Why don't chart compilers just pick their fave 'music' and be done with it?

    It still won't lend any credibility to the chart

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    Dear BBC why does this get coverage when the anti austerity march did not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    So this is just a chart of songs most played songs of the week, nothing about sales now.
    The blurring of these lines will inevitably lead to even more streaming than sales, and revenue to the artists.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    No money in it for the artists or producers.

    How are the next generation of artists & producers going to be financed?

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.


    Been a Ry Cooder fan since I saw Crossroads (and I'm not talking about the Motel either).

    I already DJ for an online station, and we only play rock. But until the record labels start promoting REAL music (and that does not include the incipidness of Coldplay), then the system will never change!

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    Maybe I'm showing my age but this doesn't seem so different from counting how many times a song is played on the radio and using that to contribute to the chart position.

    Equally again I might be showing my age but the charts have less and less relevance. The X-factor automatic Xmas no 1 for years on the trot proved that. Generally sales are so low its easy to manipulate if you have Cowells cash

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    83 - Emperor Wibble

    Ha Ha!

    Maybe listen to "Black Betty" by the Ram Jam Band. A guitar riff to send "Boo" scampering for the hills with his tail between his legs! Let me know what you think & don't forget - the law says, play it on "ten".

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    Right, I'm starting a campaign to get "Me and You and a Dog Named Boo" to number one. For 20 weeks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    The charts represents what the record companies say WILL be popular. And whilst there are radio stations playing the naff music, and people going out and buying said naff music, the charts will always be dominated by... you've guessed it... NAFF MUSIC.

    I mean, in what universe can both Gangnam Style AND anything recorded by Jedward deserve anything other than derision.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    78 - Pochettinos Army.

    Thank you & thats fer sure my friend!

    And, maybe consider the "in yer face" talent of Gary Moore, Robert Plant, Ry Cooder, John Lee Hooker, Big Jim Sullivan, Geoff Whitehorn, Peter Green, Santana, Malmsteen..........?

    You & I need pirate radio again methinks. Infrastructure, or something which has a soul in order to give what previous generations had - GOOD music!

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    Top of the pops used to showcase a wide range of young talent, who knows what the charts represent now?

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    If someone Streams music, they want to sample it like you would watching a movie trailer.
    If they download it, they like it and that should count in the charts.
    For many years now, a number 1 hit single does not accurately reflect how many have been sold or indeed, how popular it is

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.


    You, sir, are a legend. May I respectfully suggest that we can add Jimi Hendrix, Guns 'N' Roses, Motley Crue and Queen to that list of legends.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    75 - billy goat gruff.


    John Peel, Micky Most, Andrew Loog Oldham, Whispering Bob Harris, even Spector.

    Then there is Simon Cowell.

    Guess which one would not be able to identify an f sharp minor if he tried? Can you spot which one could not spot talent if it bit him on the backside?

    Its only about the money now & has little to do with creating good music.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    61 - Bill Walker

    Couldn't agree more. No style, no street cred, no talent, no musical niche, no middle eight instrumental, no artwork, no rock, no blues, no rock 'n roll, no real bands, no live talent hunts............

    Only mundane X Factor tripe more suitable to background noise in S'mkts & lifts!

    Long live Satriani, Stevie Ray, Stevie Vai, Led Zep, Floyd, & consign X Factor to the bin?

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    The charts is just for the millions of people who think "The X Factor" is a music talent contest.
    The sad thing is that most of them will never even have heard of the greatest promoter of new music in the last 40 years, the legendary John Peel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    If only there was half decent music to listen to these days...

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    Frankly all this nonsense about streaming and the impact on the music industry is nonsense.

    Music aficionado's know the music genres they like, know where to get them and how to get them.

    What Radio 1 tries to force down the throat of the rest of the sheep matters not here nor there.

    What would help choice of listening on from the radio are more digital broadcast stations.

  • Comment number 72.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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