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U.K. SINGLES CHART DEBATE HEATS UP

A number of voices have spoken out about the stagnancy of the U.K. Singles Chart after BBC Radio 1 playlist boss Chris Price weighed in on the issue last week. Modest! boss Harry Magee, Arctic Monkeys' manager Ian McAndrew and digital exec Sammy Andrews have all offered their opinion.

It’s the issue du jour in Blighty at the moment as Drake looks headed for his 15th consecutive week at #1 on the Official Singles Chart with “One Dance,” thanks to its continued popularity on streaming services. The track topped the U.K.’s sales-only chart in its first three weeks, with streaming powering the remaining 11 weeks.

The Official Chart's sales and streaming formula, where 100 streams count as equivalent to one single sale, has resulted in the charts measuring engagement over time, rather than one-off purchases. Price suggested the chart should either discount curated playlist streams or include radio airplay to ensure new artists get a chance at a high placing.

Magee agreed that it’s a problem, telling the BBC: "There's been a lot of talk about how hard it is to break a new act at the minute - and it certainly is. It's harder for artists and it's harder for the industry. It's a problem we're still getting our heads around.” McAndrew, meanwhile, praised streaming for serving as a platform for music being discovered. “So while it may distort the charts, it serves as an access point for new music,” he pointed out.

Digital exec Sammy Andrews isn't so easily appeased, and has proposed a number of considered measures to make the singles charts better reflect demand. Writing for Medium, Andrews—who has history at 19 Entertainment, Cooking Vinyl and is now Director of her own firm Entertainment Intelligence—said it’s “out-dated industry regulations and formulas around a form of consumption that many have clearly yet to understand fully” that’s the problem. “The way we are classifying streaming in the charts right now is an absolute farce,” she added.

The 100 streams rule should be scrapped, argued Andrews, and replaced by either a new system, or a split chart “to truly reflect what people are listening to and discovering for the first time,” across all DSPs, including YouTube, and based on unique listens.

“Streaming ultimately rewards longevity, but the singles chart specifically is surely there to show us what’s gaining momentum right now, not what’s swelled over time,” she reasons. “To give us a glimpse into real time tastes and trends… NOT to show us what’s on repeat on someone’s stereo.”

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