Frequently Asked Questions

Who are we? How do we do what we do? Where does our data come from? Answers to all these questions and more.

Who are the Official Charts Company?

The Official Charts Company is a joint venture between two key trade associations – the BPI (the British Phonographic Industry, an organisation representing the British recorded music business) and ERA (the Entertainment Retailers Association, an organisation representing digital and physical retailers, as well as audio and video streaming services) and is responsible for the commissioning, marketing, distribution and management of the UK's official music and video charts.

Which charts do the Official Charts Company compile?

The best known charts which we compile are the Official Singles Chart (unveiled by Radio 1 every Sunday and broadcast by MTV) and the Official Albums Charts, but these are just the tip of a huge iceberg. In addition, we compile the Official Video Chart for the home video industry, the Official Singles Update (which is broadcast on BBC Radio 1 every Wednesday) and dozens of genre charts, covering areas such as rock, jazz, classical, dance and many more.

Our full range of charts are outlined here: All the Official Charts

What is different about the Official Charts?

The Official Charts are the UK’s definitive music and video charts, for a number of reasons.

Industry supported - ours are the ONLY charts recognised, owned and supported by the artists and the entertainment industry. We work closely with the music and video industries to set rules and standards which the entire industry sign up to. As a result, getting to Number 1 in the Official Charts means a lot more to YOUR favourite artists.

Accurate and transparent - our charts come with a guarantee of accuracy and transparency. We won’t hide behind a confusing formula which only a mathematician can understand. We pride ourselves on the transparency of our charts and commit ourselves to being totally open on the process behind our charts.

All retailers and service providers - our charts reflect popularity based on real sales and streams to British consumers, from across a wide range of retailers. We don’t rely on sales or streams from just one service. 

How do you create the charts?

In short, the 11,000-plus retailers supplying data provide us with information of all the sales and streams they have made on a daily basis. These files are collated every day by our partner company Millward Brown - one of the world's most respected market research companies - and matched against the databases of products (music and video) which they hold. The results of this process are verified throughout the week to ensure there are no errors in the data, before the final charts are published on Sunday. The end of week charts reflect all sales which have been reported from 00.01 Sunday, through to midnight Saturday.

A detailed outline of the chart compilation process is outlined here: How the Official Charts are compiled.

Where do you collect sales and streaming data from?

The simple answer is all significant retailers/music services – including iTunes, Amazon, HMV, Google Play, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Spotify, Deezer and over 2,600 independent record and video shops. As a result, we estimate that we capture around 99% of all singles sold, 98% of all albums and over 90% of all videos/DVDs.

Do you count downloads?

Yes, of course - we have counted music downloads since 2004, starting within a couple of months of iTunes launching in the UK, when digital music was still a tiny proportion of all music sales.

What about streaming?

Yes, we do. From the July 2014, audio streams started counting towards a chart placing on the Official Singles Chart - and from March 2015, audio streams count towards the Official Artist Albums Chart. To date, the services contributing span Spotify, Deezer, Napster, O2 Tracks (Musicqubed), rara, Rdio, Blinkbox Music and XBox Music. To reflect the difference between streams and purchases, 100 streams are counted as equivalent to 1 single purchase (whether download, CD or vinyl) and 1,000 streams to 1 album purchase (whether download, CD or vinyl) for chart purposes.

We also count video streams too, but these feed into our industry data services, and do not currently feed into the Official Charts themselves.

Can I see midweek charts?

Yes, you can. For the first time, the new-look OfficialCharts.com will publish the weekly Official Chart Updates every Wednesday afternoon, after they have been unveiled by BBC Radio 1 at 4pm.

The Official Chart Updates were launched in March 2010. Available for both singles and albums, they span sales from Sunday through Tuesday - they reveal how the runners and riders are selling in the first few days of the week, outlining the hottest new entries and the highest climbers for both singles and albums. The Update is also broadcast each Thursday on MTV at 3pm.

The Updates are taken from data used to compile the industry-only Sales Flashes, which are published every day (under strict embargo) to industry online subscribers from Tuesday through to Friday morning. These Sales Flashes will continue to be published only to an industry audience, as before - and any organisation distributing this copyright data is doing so without permission.

Can I find out sales information on specific releases?

Sales information on releases is also only available to business users, for business purposes - due to confidentiality agreements with the music and video companies, the Official Charts Company cannot supply sensitive sales information to members of the public, even for academic study.

On occasion, we will use this data to celebrate the success of artists within the Official Charts and when reaching performance milestones, in collaboration with the artists, their representatives and our partners, including the BPI, Era, retailers and music companies.

In addition, both the BPI and Era publish information about the UK entertainment industry. Their BPI Statistical Handbook uses a vast array of Official Charts data and is an excellent resource for students, researchers and journalists to establish overall market figures – in turn, the Era Yearbook incorporates similarly valuable data every year. For more information, visit www.bpi.co.uk or www.eraltd.org. The BVA (British Video Association) also compile a statistical yearbook for the video industry - visit www.bva.org.uk for more information.

Where can I see a full archive of charts?

For the first time, right here on this site. Our definitive chart archive incorporates Singles and Albums going back to the 1950s, Compilations, Video and dozens of genre charts dating to the Nineties - and they are all available from our Archive page 

Check out our Artists hub page to search for stories, interviews and chart facts on your favourite artists - in fact, any acts in UK chart history. 

For more detailed pointers on how to use our database, check out our handy, easy-to-follow guide here. To understand more about the background behind the creation of this database, read our essential outline here.