Chart company changes formula to reflect rise in streaming

By Mark Savage
BBC Music reporter

  • Published
DrakeImage source, AP
Image caption,
Drake's 15-week chart run this year was almost entirely due to his popularity on streaming services

The Official Chart Company is changing the way it calculates the Top 40 to reflect the rise in streaming.

Currently, 100 streams count as one "sale" of a song. From January, the ratio will become 150:1.

It is hoped that the change could break the bottleneck at the top of the charts, as hits on streaming services linger for weeks on end.

Only 11 songs have reached number one this year, compared to 26 in 2015 and 42 in 2014.

The slowdown was prompted by the inclusion of streaming data into the charts in July 2014.

Up to that point, the Top 40 measured how many times a record had been bought. Now it measures consumption - and the trend on streaming sites is for people to listen to their favourite songs over and over, rather than seeking out new music.

'Harder for artists'

That's why Drake's One Dance spent 15 weeks at number one earlier this year. It only outsold the competition for the first three weeks of that period, but fans continued to stream it on services like Spotify and Apple Music.

What's more, the influence of streams has increased as more users adopt it. When the Official Chart Company first started counting streaming in 2014, the number of streams delivered per week was 275 million. That figure has now swollen to 990 million, and is expected to pass 1 billion in the first weeks of next year.

While the figures have given the music industry a significant revenue boost for the first time in a decade, they have also fuelled concerns that new songs and new artists are being robbed of the chance to shine.

Earlier this year, BBC research showed that the number of new entries in the singles chart had fallen by 60% between 2006 and 2016.

Harry Magee, who manages acts like One Direction and Little Mix, told the BBC it was "a problem" that needed to be addressed.

"It's harder for artists and it's harder for the industry. It's a problem we're still getting our heads around."

Announcing the changes to the chart formula, Martin Talbot, chief executive of the Official Chart Company, said: "It is testament to the rapidly changing nature of music consumption in the UK - and the huge shift we are seeing towards streaming - that we are updating the way we measure the contribution of streams to the make-up of the official charts as quickly as we are.

"Streaming is growing exponentially and the weighting we use to reflect its impact will inevitably keep evolving with it."

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