Quantcast
SHEERAN SUCCESS REIGNITES SINGLES CHART DEBATE 

Cries for a drastic change to the formula used by the U.K. Official Singles Chart to measure streams has reached mainstream media thanks to Ed Sheeran’s unprecedented domination. A firey op-ed by music journo Laura Snapes was followed by comments from WIN CEO Alison WenhamMMF President Jon Webster and analyst Mark Mulligan.

The debate has been ongoing within the trade press over the last year thanks to a stagnant chart. As Snapes points out, in the first six months of 2016, there were 86 new entries in the U.K. Singles Chart overall, compared with 230 a decade earlier. Only 11 songs hit #1 last year, with many holding onto the top spot for weeks on end thanks to longevity on streaming services. The problem seems to be escalating: In the 11 weeks of this year, there have been just two #1s; there had been four by this time in 2016.  

The Official Charts Company responded by changing the 100 streams=1 sale to 150 streams=1 sale in January, however, the effort has been deemed not good enough. On Friday, all 16 songs from Sheeran’s ÷ (Atlantic) were in the Top 20, despite not all of them being “official” singles. On Monday, Sheeran occupied six spots in the Top 10. 

OCC chief executive Martin Talbot told Snapes he won’t be rushing to “kneejerk reactions” calling the Sheeran case an “extreme” example.  “We will review chart methodologies (as we continually do) to see if there is something we could or should change,” he said. “But we shouldn’t (and won’t) rush to any kneejerk actions. 

"The highest number of streams for any album before was Stormzy last week, which achieved 21k album streams, then a record for a #1 album. As a result, Stormzy’s album ended up with one track in the Top 20 and seven tracks in the Top 40. In contrast, ÷ has generated 79k album streams. It is an absolute outlier. And you shouldn’t change rules for extreme cases.”

Wenham disagrees. “Having Ed Sheeran dominate virtually the whole of the Top 20 is indicative of the fact it is evolving and the rules will need to be examined fairly regularly in terms of the conversion—how many streams equals a download,” she told the Guardian.

Webster said the issue lies in combining sales and streams. “You should be looking at two different things: what’s happening in streaming, and what’s happening in sales,” he said. “You can’t mix them. It ends up in two different metrics and that’s the problem.

“When you were a kid and you bought a single, if you played it 500 times over five weeks it was still only one sale. But now we’re having that 500 times over five weeks in the chart. We live in a different world, and we need a different chart for a different world.”

Jeremy Pritchard of rock band Everything Everything raised a valid point over why tracks are charting that aren’t released as singles, while Mulligan said if the U.K. wants a chart that reflects sales and where revenue is flowing, rather than the popularity of an artist, a revamp is required.

The pressure is now on for the OCC to go back to the drawing board, and come up with a singles chart that’s truly fit for purpose in the age of streaming. Watch this space.

 

HITS LIST: SIGNS OF A
WHOLE NEW DEAL
The sounds of a brighter day to come? (1/15a)
RAINMAKERS:
STEVE COOPER
Turnaround specialist becomes a music man. (1/15a)
BIG CHANGES AT RCA: EDGE UPS PITTS TO PREZ, FLECK TO COO; RICCITELLI TO EXIT
Recalibrating for changing tastes. (1/15a)
DANGEROUS TIMES: A CONVERSATION WITH MORGAN WALLEN
As his song says, "Livin' the Dream." (1/14a)
ACADEMY AND DUGAN
DUE TO SETTLE?
A messy divorce nears its resolution. (1/15a)
RAINMAKERS
Bring your umbrella.
GRAMMYS: WHERE TO FROM HERE?
After the snubs, the show.
HOW TO FIND 11,780 VOTES
It's the way all the biggest mob bosses did it.
MOVING THE NEEDLE
When vaccination schedules and touring schedules meet.
 Email

 First Name

 Last Name

 Company

 Country
CAPTCHA code
Captcha: (type the characters above)