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In line with the growing popularity of streaming services, audio streams are to be incorporated in the U.K. Albums Chart for the first time from the end of February, measuring body the Official Charts Company has confirmed.
 
The change comes into effect week commencing February 23 -- the same week as the BRIT Awards -- with the first Top 100 albums chart to include streaming data due to be published Sunday 1 March via the Official Charts Company website and  across media partners, including BBC Radio 1.
 
Audio streams have been incorporated in the U.K. singles chart since July 2014 and the newly configured albums chart will utilise a similar 'weighted' methodology.

In order to ensure that hit singles do not skew the chart performance of a parent album, the Official Charts Company will take the 12 most-streamed tracks from each album release, but downgrade the two most popular tracks to bring them in line with the average of the next ten. Individual streaming data will then be added together and divided by 1,000 to reflect the difference in value between streaming and purchasing. Combined streams will then be added to physical and digital sales of an album.    
 
Official Charts Company says that the reason behind 'down-weighting' the two most popular tracks is to maintain the integrity of the U.K. albums tally and prevent hit singles from unfairly distorting an album's performance.  The measuring body cites Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" featuring T.I. and Pharrell, and John Legend's "All of Me" as examples of hugely popular singles that could positively influence an album's chart position.
 
As with the U.K. singles chart, streaming data will be accumulated from a number of leading streaming services, including Spotify, Deezer, Google Play, Napster, O2 Tracks [Musicqubed], Rara, Rdio and Xbox Music. In 2014, the total number of audio streams in the U.K. climbed to just under 15 billion. 

"The Official Charts Company's mission is to compile the most accurate, reliable and up-to-date charts around, and in 2015 that means reflecting the popularity of streaming, alongside downloads, vinyl and - still the most popular album format - the CD," said Official Charts Company chief executive Martin Talbot in a statement.
 
He went on to say that "initial indications are that the impact on actual chart positions will be modest to begin with, but we expect this to grow as streaming becomes increasingly popular." 
 
The move was unsurprisingly welcomed by representatives of streaming services with Deezer U.K.'s Christian Harris calling the inclusion of streaming data "an important next step in strengthening the new audio economy."
 
"Not only will it more accurately reflect what people are listening to, but it reinforces the importance of digital as a powerful platform that helps artists reach fans and share a complete piece of work with them," Harris added.
 
The U.K. Albums Chart dates back to 1956 when Frank Sinatra's Songs For Swinging Lovers was the first official No. 1 album.