The Official Singles Chart is to begin counting audio streams for the first time.
Beginning with the chart broadcast on July 6, the official rundown will – for the first time – incorporate plays from services including Spotify, Deezer, Napster, O2 Tracks, rara, Sony’s Music Unlimited and X Box Music. Plays on YouTube and other video services will not be counted.
Official Charts Company boss Martin Talbot told NME that the move was prompted by shifts in the way the public consumes music. “About six months ago, we began to seriously start thinking about doing this. We’ve seen such an upsurge in streaming figures, it became clear we needed to act. Streams have grown from 100 million a week in January 2013 to 260 million now.”
He added: “Streaming is a progression from downloads in the same way that downloads took over from CD and vinyl. The charts have always reflected consumers’ consumption of the most popular songs every week. Moving forward, to have a chart that’s meaningful, streaming needs to be incorporated.”
It’s a landmark change for the British chart, which has – since 1952 – ranked tracks by sales alone. Under the new system, 100 streams of a song will count for the same as one purchase. A song must be streamed for 30 seconds before it counts as a stream. “We decided to go with a round number because it’s easy to understand – there’s a transparency about the chart which we wanted to maintain,” said Talbot.
Addressing concerns that the new system could be abused by fans or record labels setting up streams and leaving them playing on repeat, the OCC have capped the maximum number of eligible streams at ten per user per song per day. “We’re capping it at 10 streams per user per day, so an over-enthusiastic One Direction fan can’t just play their new single for seven days solid and skew the figures,” said Talbot.
There are currently no plans to incorporate streaming into the Albums Chart.
The last comparable change came to the UK charts came in 2004, when downloads were incorporated into chart data. In the USA, the Billboard Hot 100 began incorporating YouTube streams into its data in February 2013, leading to viral hits such as Baauer’s ‘Harlem Shake’. At the time, Talbot said that no similar moves were planned in the UK, insisting that the UK’s Official Singles Chart would remain a purely sales-based chart. A separate streaming chart has been compiled since May 2012.
Revenue from subscription streaming services rose to £103m in 2013 – an increase of 33.7 percent. According to the Official Charts Company, Brits streamed 7.4bn songs in 2013, not including music videos, which was double 2012’s total of 3.7bn. Music streaming doubled in popularity in the UK between 2013 and 2014, and currently averages 260 million streams a week. ‘Pompeii’, by Bastille (pictured), is the UK’s most streamed track ever. The band explain the changes to the chart in the video below.