The Australian Recording Industry Assn. will publish its first official digital music chart on April 9, the labels body said today (March 30). Digital and physical sales will be combined in an integra

The Australian Recording Industry Assn. will publish its first official digital music chart on April 9, the labels body said today (March 30). Digital and physical sales will be combined in an integrated chart in late 2006.

Data for the Digital Track Chart will initially come from 15 sources, including Apple Computer's iTunes Music Store, BigPond Music, destra Music, ninemsn Music and Soundbuzz, as well as retailers such as Ripit, Leading Edge and JB Hi Fi.

The line-up does not yet include Brazin's three chains, Sanity Music, HMV and Virgin, which together account for 35% of Australia's physical recorded music sales.

Sales from mobile phones -- said to account for 20% of digital sales -- will not initially be included in the new chart.

The Sydney-based association delayed the chart launch for almost 12 months to ensure that the raw data it received was credible.

ARIA chief executive Stephen Peach tells Billboard.biz that a key software problem will be rectified shortly.

Online music providers predict the chart's arrival will have a strong effect on consumer awareness. "It legitimizes digital music sales, and reflects the cultural shift in Australia towards digital buying," comments Paul Buchanan, Sydney-based GM of Soundbuzz Australia.

Buchanan estimates that the digital music business could rise by 10% to 20% this year. He says the legitimacy provided by the chart will draw more venture capitalists, big business, advertising agencies and telecommunications companies to the sector.

In a statement, ARIA chairman Denis Handlin said, "The digital music market has now clearly grown to the point where an official sales chart is warranted. We're all keen to see how this market develops over the coming months and years and this chart will be a significant indication of the growth of that market".

According to recently-issued ARIA figures for 2005, 4.9 million digital tracks were sold last year for a total value of A$7.9 million ($5.53 million). The launch of iTunes in October helped ignite the market.

The Motorola ARIA Digital Track Chart will, like its other charts, collate sales in a cycle from Saturday morning to Friday night. Different mixes of the same song will appear separately on the new chart. The Motorola ARIA Chart Show, broadcast nationally every Sunday on DMG Radio's Nova network, will count down the top 10.

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