Those rumours earlier in the year about streaming getting added to the UK’s official singles chart were correct: early this morning the Official Charts Company confirmed its plans.
The first singles chart to include streams will be aired on Radio 1 on 6 July, with data from Spotify, Deezer, Napster, O2 Tracks, Xbox Music, Music Unlimited and Rara factored into the chart calculations, with 100 streams the equivalent of a sale.
The BPI is on board with the changes, tweaking its own Platinum, Gold and Silver certified awards programme to include streams as well as sales. The changes come at a point where British music fans are streaming 260m tracks a week, up from 200m at the start of 2014.
“If you take 100 streams as being worth a single, you can extrapolate as the volume of streams has increased over the last year and a half, we are looking at streams as being around 40% in terms of percentage of the total singles market. When you get to that point, you can’t turn the other way,” OCC boss Martin Talbot told Music Ally in an interview.
One key point: YouTube streams will not be included in the chart calculations for now, so don’t expect any ‘Harlem Shake’ style viral video chart-toppers in the near future. “We are keeping a watchful brief,” said Talbot, about YouTube. “We have never counted video downloads, so there is no reason to particularly count video streams into the charts.”
Well, no reason other than YouTube being the largest streaming music service, even if it’s videos. SoundCloud is also absent from the chart calculations for now, and given these two services’ popularity with young fans in particular, we wonder if finding a fair way to include them will be next on the agenda.
Talbot did confirm that the OCC is “looking at and trying to work out the methodology” for adding streams into its official album charts.
Still, what will the new changes mean for the singles rankings in the UK? Music Ally has been talking to industry contacts in Sweden, where streaming has counted towards the singles chart since October 2010, and albums since September 2013.
One key impact: the chart dynamic is a lot slower and steadier: songs take longer to chart well, but don’t plummet down the charts after their first week. Sources also note that genres that skew towards younger fans – dance, for example – have been the key beneficiaries of changes there.
We’ve also explored streaming’s impact on the US charts, where songs by the likes of Iggy Azalea and Lorde have enjoyed long chart-topping runs, bolstered by huge streaming stats. In both countries, the main dynamic is seen as healthy: charts reflecting what people are actually listening to, rather than just what’s being bought.