Downloads could soon play a major part in the UK Top 40

New rules are set to be enforced which will ensure digital music downloads count towards the UK singles chart as soon they are available to buy online.

The Entertainment Retailers’ Association is looking at bringing in new proposals to allow all downloads to count towards the Top 40 at the turn of the year.

Under the current rules, downloads only count towards the singles chart one week before a track’s physical release and until two weeks after the CD is deleted, reports BBC News.

Yet, singles online are currently available to download weeks before their official release on CD.

Under the new rules, songs would move up the charts as a track becomes more popular online.

The move would mean that tracks like Scissor Sisters‘ current Number One ‘I Don’t Feel Like Dancin”, which sold 45,000 copies before it was allowed to count towards the charts, would become eligible for the Top 40 as soon as it is available to download digitally.

Many record stores have agreed to the proposals following a boom in digital sales, with 78% of legal downloads alone now accounting for all UK single sales.

EMI chief executive Tony Wadsworth said: “Unfortunately, we’re in this period of transition where there’s a reluctance in some quarters to let go of the physical part of the single. That has resulted in some of these rules, which I just think are slowing us down.

“A single can be made available for sale digitally as soon as it goes to radio and it’s got a sales life which is not actually being represented in the chart until one week before a physical format is released, and that just seems absurd.”

Meanwhile those working with unsigned artists also welcomed the change.

Website Pulse Rated, which features new bands, welcomed the proposal, saying: “If the new rules come into force, it will be no longer mandatory to place your record in a record store. Chart success will become purely a marketing exercise, and if an unsigned artist can work with a distributor and then generate enough support online, they will be able to top the chart without signing away any of the rights to their music.”