“I’m so happy. Yay!” Ariana Grande (for it is she) is certainly smiling after topping the UK’s Official Singles Chart in the first week it factored in streams as well as sales, but the sentiment applies just as much to the streaming services – who’ve been lobbying for this for some time.
As we predicted, there’s no seismic change to the makeup of the chart, although the big winner is Ed Sheeran, with streams of his ‘X’ album propelling all 12 of its tracks into the top 100 of the singles chart. We reported last week on the 6.2m first-week streams of the album on Spotify alone in the UK, and this being streaming, we suspect plays won’t have dropped off that much (if at all) in the album’s second week.
Some additional details: Grande’s number one with her Iggy Azalea collaboration ‘Problem’ sold 106k copies last week, with 712k streams accounting for 6% of its chart performance under the Official Charts Company’s formula.
That’s actually less of a contribution than for many songs: the OCC said last night that the average streaming contribution for this week’s top 40 singles was just over 20%. 1m streams for the second-placed ‘Ghost’ by Ella Henderson, and 1.32m streams for Sheeran’s ‘Sing’ at number four show the kind of scale we’re talking about with streaming hits in the UK.
Attention is turning, naturally, to What This All Means, with the debate zeroing in on the growing importance of playlists – both in listening and label marketing terms.
BBC Radio 1’s George Ergatoudis caused a stir last week with a tweet prediction:
Make no mistake. With very few exceptions, albums are edging closer to extinction. Playlists are the future. http://t.co/MsUtuFencu
— George Ergatoudis (@GeorgErgatoudis) July 2, 2014
He followed up with an interview with the Beeb’s own Newsbeat rowing back a bit – “I’m not saying that artists are going to stop making albums, I’m not saying that albums aren’t artistically relevant and there will still be some amazing artists recording amazing albums” – before returning to the original theme.
“All of those music streaming services, although they have albums, are leading the consumer down the path of playlists… I think playlists are going to be the new album,” said Ergatoudis. “For many, many people playlists are going to replace what traditionally used to be their album consumption pattern.”
What That All Means was covered last month in a blog post by Kieron Donoghue of Playlists.net, who (obviously) has an interest in playlists becoming an even more powerful form of music discovery, but who also has some smart thoughts on how this may spin out.
“Owners of playlists with large follower counts can expect to be pitched priority tracks from record labels for inclusion,” he wrote on 22 June, suggesting that labels are racing to build audiences for playlists on which they can promote new songs to 500k-1m subscribers at a time.
“It’s definitely more common than you would think and there is a land grab happening right now with labels trying to build up playlist followers as quick as they can now that chart influence is finally here,” he wrote.
That’s why the UK’s introduction of streams into the singles chart is less interesting for what happened this week – although yay for Grande too – and more about what happens over the coming months as the changes shape labels’ marketing strategies.