The way we consume music has changed drastically over the last 10 years, with streaming making it easier than ever to access music as you please.However, do these changes allow a clear image to be presented that truly represents the music we love as a nation.
The official chart company was founded on the 3rd August 1969 with a purpose to represent the music that was being brought by the British public. originally it was based purely on physical sales before downloads were included in 2005.
In May of 2012 a new chart was launched, the ‘Streaming chart’ ran alongside the singles chart and was a weekly representation of the music streamed on up and coming sites such as Spotify and Deezer.
Shortly after this in July of 2014 it was decided that the Streaming chart would join downloads and physical sales in the Official singles chart. Every 100 streams would be counted as one single sale, however this was upped in 2016 to the ratio of 150:1 given the sites increased popularity.
Streams also count towards the official certification of singles through the BPI’s Platinum, Gold and Silver Certification programmes.
Steaming’s share of the singles market has grown to more than 80%.
Due to these changes, it has made it easier for tracks to stay in the chart for longer and achieve more BPI certifications.
One example being Drakes 2016 track ‘One Dance’, it stayed 14 weeks in the top spot with a total of 554,000 ‘Sales’ by the time streams were broken down. The majority of this was based off of streams, which explains its low overall sale count because as I mentioned earlier every 150 streams equals a sale.’Shape of you’ was the lead single released off of British Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran’s third studio album ‘Divide’. It is 5 times platinum in the UK and as of October 2017 It had been streamed 224 million times and downloaded nearly 765,000 times, which under the Official chart calculation system equaled 2,876,460 ‘sales’ once streams were broken down. It also peaked at number 1 for 14 weeks matching Drakes record.What strikes me as weird as that two songs can have number one in the chart for the same amount of weeks yet there is such a massive gap in numbers.This also explains why at Christmas all the old tracks that get put into Christmas playlists re-enter the chart, because let’s be honest who is re-buying Mariah Careys ‘All I want for Christmas is you’ over and over again.
While some may argue that fact that a track doesn’t have to be brought to achieve chart success will have an overall positive effect, others like myself argues that this makes the chart very manipulable.
I’m sure anyone that has ever used Spotify has gone onto their main page and stuck on a playlist, possibly ‘Hot hits UK’ or ‘The pop list’. So you put on that playlist and leave it running, there you are generating a stream for a song that you only listened to purely because it was fed to you. Where as if you go to the shop and buy a physical copy or you pay for it on iTunes or google play you are showing your respect for the track in a way that shows you have purposely spent the time to show your appreciation rather than having it playing because it’s in a playlist.
My personal opinion is that the UK singles chart really doesn’t represent the music that the people of the UK are actually enjoying it purely represents what is being fed to us. For myself personally,if I really like a song will purchase it on 7″ vinyl if I can and if not I will simply buy on itunes because I want to show my respect to the song and the artist. The chairman of the official charts company Korda Marshall said that including streams into the offical singles chart ‘helps us fully understand the number of times people actually listen to a track rather than just buying it’ but for me a listen doesn’t mean a track is good. An example being the track ‘Man’s not hot’, this comedy track reached number five on the UK singles chart even being awared a silver BPI certification for its 200,000 ‘Sales’ but I ask this question, how many people who streamed this track would have been willing to pay the 99p to buy this and I bet you the number would be low therefore this god awful comedy track wouldn’t have got near to the chart. I’m not saying that I disagree with streaming because I don’t, I use Spotify myself however, I just really disagree with the fact that the prestige of having a single in the top 5,10,20 or even 100 has been lost, and that nowadays it doesn’t take much for a track to be awarded a BPI certification. I understand that stuff has to move with the times however I believe that if they claim to represent the musical preferences of the UK then they should calculate it purely on sales. This is just my opinion however, let me know in the comments below what you think, and I will see you in the new year!
All statistics were correct at time of publishing!