Streaming welcomed into Official UK Albums Chart

The  UK’s Official Albums Chart will incorporate streaming plays from the end of this month for the first time in history.

The Official Charts Company said the change, which will come into effect from the w/c February 23, was ‘supported by the breadth of the British music industry’.

The first Official Albums Chart Top 100 incorporating audio streams will be published on Sunday, March 1.

The streaming data which will count towards the Official Albums Chart represents on-demand plays via services such as Spotify, Deezer, Napster, Google Play, O2 Tracks (Musicqubed), Rara, Rdio and XBox Music.

In a bid to maintain what the Official Charts Company calls the ‘integrity of the Official Albums chart’, the UK will use a new methodology designed to ensure that the rundown continues to reflect the popularity of albums, rather than just the performance of one or two smash hit singles. (See more on that in detail through here.)

All streams will be counted from the standard version of each album, but with the two most streamed tracks down-weighted to prevent them from skewing the album’s overall performance.

“Reports of the death of the album have been exaggerated – the format is alive and well on Spotify”

Kevin Brown, Spotify

The move comes eight months after audio streaming first counted towards the Official Singles Chart for the first time, from the beginning of July 2014.

Official Charts Company Chairman Korda Marshall, founder of Infectious Music, said, “The Official Charts are a UK institution, followed both by music fans and the industry, so we do not make changes to them lightly. But with more and more people listening to albums via streaming services, it is right that we are now going to reflect streaming in the Official Albums Chart. \

“It is particularly appropriate that this change will take place from BRITs week, when we will be celebrating some of today’s biggest album artists, like Ed Sheeran, George Ezra, alt-J and Royal Blood, among many others.”

Official Charts Company chief executive Martin Talbot says, “The Official Charts Company’s mission is to compile the most accurate, reliable and up-to-date charts around, and in 2015 that means reflecting the popularity of streaming, alongside downloads, vinyl and – still the most popular album format – the CD. Initial indications are that the impact on actual chart positions will be modest to begin with, but we expect this to grow as streaming becomes increasingly popular.”

“Reports of the death of the album have been exaggerated – the format is alive and well on Spotify, and indeed the majority of streams in the UK come from albums”, said Kevin Brown, Spotify’s Head of label relations for Europe. “We are delighted to see the consumption of albums by the millions of music fans on Spotify in the UK now being reflected in the Official Album Chart.”

Kim Bayley, chief executive of the Entertainment Retailers Association, which represents every significant streaming service in the UK from Deezer to Spotify to Napster, RaRa and Rdio said, “This is a real milestone. Digital services have invested tens of millions of pounds in creating a streaming revolution which has benefited both music fans and the music industry, so we very much welcome this recognition by the Official Charts Company of the value of this growing sector. Streaming is a vital part of the new mixed economy of music in which physical and digital formats are thriving side-by-side.”

BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor says, “The Official Charts are the definitive measure of an artist’s popularity in the UK, so it’s crucial they keep pace with the different ways that fans enjoy music. Streaming allows you to discover a whole universe of new and classic albums, from Rae Morris to Radiohead. The album is the ultimate expression of an artist’s creativity, so we’re delighted that fans listening to albums on streaming services will now be contributing to the Official Albums Chart.”

The Official Albums Chart has reflected the UK’s biggest albums every week since the first chart was published by Record Mirror 59 years ago – with Frank Sinatra’s Songs For Swinging Lovers the first number one in Summer 1956.

Talbot says, “This is a timely change for the Official Albums Chart, coming as it does just over a year before its 60th anniversary. In those six decades, the chart has showcased the greatest musical artworks of all time – from The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, to Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Adele’s 21, right up to the latest sets by Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran and George Ezra.

“The album is one of the most important art-forms of the past 50 years and this change will ensure that the Official Albums Chart maintains its position as the pre-eminent showcase of the album as a body of work.”Music Business Worldwide

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