The United Kingdom’s Official Singles Chart is to undergo one of the biggest shake-ups in its 62-year history next month when it begins incorporating audio streams for the first time.
The first Official Singles Chart Top 40 to include streaming data will be unveiled Sunday, July 6, based on U.K. sales and streams over the preceding seven-day period. The same week’s full Top 100 will be published on OfficialCharts.com at 7pm GMT, the same day.
Historically, the U.K. singles chart has always been based on sales alone, although sales measuring body The Official Charts Company (OCC) -- a joint venture between record labels' body the BPI and ERA, the Entertainment Retailers Association -- did launch a standalone streaming chart in May 2012.
Its decision to include streaming data in the Official U.K. Top 100 reflects the widespread explosion of streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer in the United Kingdom.
In 2013, some 7.4 billion tracks were streamed on audio services in the U.K. -- twice the total recorded the previous year -- with streaming now representing over 10% of U.K. trade income from recorded music, according to the BPI.
Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” was the U.K.’s most-streamed track of the year and the first track to be streamed a million times in a single week last spring. Meanwhile, Arctic Monkeys, followed by Bastille and Daft Punk, were the country’s most streamed artists in 2013.
In the first few weeks of June 2014, the number of weekly audio streams in the U.K. had grown to an average of 260 million a week, according to the OCC.
The move to include streams in the Official Singles Chart will involve a number of leading streaming services, including Spotify, Deezer, Napster, O2 Tracks, Xbox Music, Sony Unlimited and rara, supply weekly streaming data to the Official Charts Company. YouTube streams will not to be included in the charts rundown.
To reflect the difference in weight between streaming and purchasing, 100 streams will count as equivalent to 1 single (download or physical single) in the chart compilation process. A song has to be listened to for 30 seconds in order to register as a qualified stream.
In addition to incorporating streaming data into its main singles charts, OCC will also launch an Official Breakers Chart, reflecting the fastest growing new tracks each week.
“Audio streaming has grown at an extraordinary rate over the past year -- and the time is now right to take this important step,” said Official Charts company chief executive Martin Talbot in a statement announcing the news.
He went on to say, “The U.K.’s Official Singles Chart is culturally among the most important and influential in the world. We have been looking at this possibility for some time and now feel comfortable that our methodology is correct and that summer 2014 is the time that we should add audio streams.”
Geoff Taylor, chief rxecutive of the BPI, also welcomed the move, saying, "The Official Charts are respected around the world as the authoritative measure of U.K. musical popularity, so it's vital they continue to reflect the new ways that fans are consuming their favourite music.”
His comments were echoed by George Ergatoudis, head of music at BBC Radio 1: “We are moving from an era of music purchasing to one dominated by music streaming and it is vital that the Official Singles Chart evolves to reflect this.”
He continued, “It future proofs the Official Singles Chart and helps to guarantee its status as the definitive weekly measure of the U.K.’s most popular singles.”
In line with the changes to the singles chart, BPI will also henceforth incorporate streaming data into its certification criteria for awarding Platinum (600,000 unit equivalents), Gold (400,000) and Silver (200,000) discs to singles, using the same weighted sales criteria as the OCC (100 streams equivalent to 1 sale).
"In the same way that the Official Charts are respected around the world as the authoritative measure of U.K. musical popularity, so too our Certified Awards are widely recognised as an iconic barometer of an artist's success,” commented Geoff Taylor. “It's the right time to ensure this exciting new format is included in the way our awards are compiled."