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 131.

    The beeb have got the spare dosh to unleash two reporters on this life changing story.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    Include youtube into the mix

    Youtube is the main means now where people discover and anticipate new music releases and videos by artists

    Interesting if youtube becomes more of a way for artists to generate royalties

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    There isn't any music in the charts. Music died half way through to 90's.

  • Comment number 128.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    In years gone by if you wanted to listen to an obscure album by - for instance - Status Quo or Neil Diamond, then you'd have to go to a pretty specialist shop but now a quick search on iTunes, Spotify, etc can bring it up almost immediately. I can't pretend I'm interested in the charts these days, but I do think that they should reflect what is popular across the board and not just what is bought.

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    Can't say that the charts are all that relevant nowadays, I couldn't tell you who the top three are this week. I listen to what I like, some may be years old. Gone are the days when the producers bought shed loads to climb the charts, or backhanders to DJ's to get some airtime for their band. Internet search does it all by whatever genre, artist, theme you want.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    Streaming 'services' make their money from adverts I assume?

    The 'importance' of being No.1 used to be to encourage more sales I guess?

    The 'music industry' is about money.

    Fortunately platforms such as Soundcloud allow anyone to post their own music and reach their own, global, micro audience. 5,000+ plays and 200+ downloads is a spit in the ocean to Spotify but that's a Hit to me. Not 'arf!

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    I wonder how the marketeers will be able to get their singles to the top of the charts now ? If they are judged by how many times there stuff is actually listened to rather than rammed down peoples throats via i-Tunes. It would be good to see some rules, like does cancelling the stream before it reaches the end still count ? Does a user listening to the same tune more than once count for more ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    116.Pochettinos Army
    To name but a few. None will get regular radio airplay unless you tune into rock specific radio.
    Not to mention:
    and a whole host of others. Internet radio is the place to find new music of the type you like - try searching by genre amongst the hundreds of stations in something like Live365.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.


    Will this show once and for all that most new chart music is generally not liked by most people?

    Perhaps it will herald a new era in the music business- with artists being chosen for their ability to create or front a truly great song rather than 'sing' some sex-club-party-drunk nursery rhyme while airbrushed to perfection or yet another depressing piano ballad about failed love.

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    Who remembers recodring the Top 40 on a Sunday afternoon then spending the rest of the evenng copying the good ones from one casette to the other, trying to cut out as much as possible of the inane DJ's waffling? There was an awful lot of rubbish in the charts back then, but not in comparison to today!

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    In my opinion, I don't think the charts will mean much to anyone until something like Top of the Pops returns.
    Although I am a great fan of music, I lost track of the charts when TOTP was cut from air and I yearn for its return.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    I got an email from Spotify this morning, offering suggestions of Mexican artists because I listened to one song the other day, which was Mexican.

    I'll anticipate the moment Lupita D'Alessio breaks into the UK charts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    Perhaps I'm getting old but the music charts are just complete drivel these days anyway. If it's not the insipid rubbish peddled by Simon Cowell and the X-Factor it's something that sounds to me like someone banging kitchen utensils together with a washing machine on spin cycle in the background. Give me some decent rock and blues any day!

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    Look I will get this out of the way, I am a Taylor Swift fan, that is all well and good by my opinion but the amount of times I listen to a certain one of her songs per week is moderately high, would that all be counted, even the number of times I replay the song? Surely the official charts should be based on the music which is SOLD not just listened to, who needs "the charts" anyway these days?

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.


    OK, then I will point out some artists that are fantastic, have release new material recently, but get no radio airplay:

    Iron Maiden
    Dream Theater
    Alter Bridge
    Arch Enemy

    To name but a few. None will get regular radio airplay unless you tune into rock specific radio.

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    Really, BBC, is the makeup of a pop chart something of any importance? You have a news department, have a look at what's going on nationally and internationally and put up some real topics for debate. If ISIS gets its way there'll be no pop charts, or pop music. Get a sense of proportion, please.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    And finally & as Jagger said,

    "Its all only Rock & Roll afterall 'cept for the rubbish that isn't!"

    Nuff said! Bye fer now all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    A lot of you are REALLY showing your age with some of the bands and comments you are making.

    May I suggest that the first thing to fix is DJ freedom. Anyone who DJ's on Radio 1 is forced to use the committee chosen playlist to pick songs from, and are told how often they can be played.

    Jameela Jamil should be the ONLY DJ on Radio 1 told what to play out, during the Top 40. That's it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.


    As a DJ, I will pay for the music that I like. However, I REFUSE to pay for music that I hate, but have to play because it's popular. I will stream that music for free. The day that I pay to purchase Justin Bieber, ID or Little Mix is the day that I quit!

    And as far as playing it.... ID is a great opportunity to have a fag, refill the pint and go to the loo...


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