The New Zealand music charts are getting a digital makeover, with the singles and album top 40's to incorporate downloads, as well as over-the-counter sales and airplay.

The first of the new-look charts from the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand will appear on May 29 and will be based on data collated from the week May 21-27.

Until now, the albums chart has been based purely on over-the-counter sales, while the singles chart has been a 50:50 split between sales figures and radio play information gathered by radio data collection agency Radioscope.

However, from May 21 the singles chart will be based 25% on airplay and 75% on sales, from both digital and bricks-and-mortar retail. Albums will continue to be based solely on sales, although downloads will be included in the mix.

Among the digital operators contributing data to the new-look chart are the locally-owned DigiRAMA, the NZ arm of iTunes, the music download portals of local telcos Telecom and Vodafone, New Zealand content specialist Amplifier, and mobile music operator Txttunes.

Retail chains which will continue provide sales data include market-leading mass merchant The Warehouse and specialist chains such as Sounds, the CD & DVD Store group and the newly-launched JB Hi-FI operation.

RIANZ president Adam Holt says the organization has been able to draw on the best practice experiences of the U.K. and Australian industries in setting up a digitally integrated chart. "Digital single sales, in particular, are really taking off in New Zealand, so it's important to reflect this growth area," says Holt, who is also managing director of Universal Music NZ.

A new set of chart rules relating to eligibility have been drawn up and will be posted on the RIANZ Web site.

The introduction of digital data will also affect the organization's accreditation system for single sales. In the past, platinum and gold certificates for singles were based on wholesale shipments, but now will be based solely on physical and digital consumer sales. The singles accreditation level has also been raised from 10,000 to 15,000 for platinum and from 5,000 units to 7,500 units for gold.

The chart itself will continued to be compiled on behalf of RIANZ by the independent company Media Sauce, which owns the radio data collection agency and also collates the raw retail sales data on which the official chart is based.