UK singles chart gets a tune-up: online music streaming now included

The UK singles chart will start including streamed tracks from next month. It’s the biggest shakeup since 2005, when paid downloads were included, but what will the impact be?

We've always felt it was faintly odd that music streaming services don't contribute to the UK charts. The rise of services like Spotify and Deezer, which let you play music over the internet for a subscription fee, have changed the landscape completely - most of the people lurking around broadbandchoices HQ this morning told us they stream music almost exclusively now.

So it's gratifying to see that the Official Charts Company will include songs streamed over these services in the UK singles chart from next month.

Services confirmed to be included include Spotify, Deezer, Napster, O2 Tracks, Xbox Music, Sony Music Unlimited, and rara. There will be a weighting in place to try and gauge the popularity of a track - 100 streams will count as the equivalent of a single CD sale or download.

In truth, the move probably won't make a huge amount of difference to the top end of the charts. Two songs - Clean Bandit's Rather Be, and Waves by Mr Probz, which have each had more than 1.5million plays in a week over streaming services, also sat at number one in the single charts. So there is a correlation there.

However, it's the lower end of the top ten and below that could see a big shakeup from the new system. The BBC points out a good example in Alt-J. The indie rock band won the Mercury Prize, and are currently the 14th most streamed act in the UK, but the highest singles chart position they've ever enjoyed is 75th.

One group that's all for the news is Bastille, whose track Pompeii is the most streamed track ever in good ol' Blighty. But in the singles charts, it landed at number two - not shabby by any means, but also not necessarily reflecting its popularity.

Bastille's frontman Dan Smith shared his thoughts on the matter: "I think streaming going into the chart is definitely a good thing. I think for the charts to be fair it has to reflect how people digest music.

"I know with our album we've been really lucky and it's far exceeded what we expected in terms of how many it actually sold, but if you look at the live shows we do versus how many albums we've sold, it's clear that at least double, if not more people, have heard or own the album than have actually paid for it.

"I think bringing streaming in to that is pretty much as close as you can get to reality, so it's definitely a good thing."

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