Labels and artists no longer have to release a physical CD to qualify for Australia's main singles chart.

With effect from this week, digital tracks without a physical counterpart will meet the criteria for the Motorola ARIA Single Chart, trade body the Australian Recording Industry Association reports.

The impact was immediate on the newly-combined ARIA singles chart. Two tracks entered the chart on downloads only: Timbaland''s "Apologize," (INR/UMA) which bowed at No. 10; and Alicia Keys' "No One," (Sony BMG) which started at No. 37. A further ten tracks cracked the Top 100 based solely on download sales.

"We're expecting more tracks to chart quicker, especially at the lower end," John Parker, chair of the ARIA chart committee tells Billboard.biz.

Seven young Australian acts benefited from the chart qualification changes to enter the ARIA singles chart this week, including Gyroscope's "Snakeskin" (WEA/Warner) at No. 30 and Operator Please' "Get What You Want" (Virgin/EMI) at No. 40.

"The Motorola ARIA chart is under constant review, reacting to consumer trends to get the most accurate reading," Parker says.

ARIA mid-year trade figures showed that CD singles in the January - June timeframe dropped by 47.02% against the corresponding period in 2006 to 1.3 million units, and 46.8% in value to A$3.6 million ($3.3 million). At the same time, digital tracks rose by 63.1% in volume to 7.9 million units, which resulted in a 63.7% rise in value to A$8.3 million ($7.6 million).

Meanwhile, the trade body has changed format for the Motorola ARIA Albums Chart, allowing digital album bundles to count towards the list. The requirement of a physical release is still in place.

The charts are compiled from data from 1,100 physical retailers and 13 digital retailers, according to ARIA.

ARIA's next step is to introduce a ringtone chart, according to Parker. "But it's still some way off because data suppliers aren't giving us the information in a timely manner to produce a weekly chart," he points out.