UK’s Official Albums Chart to include streaming data for first time

Official Albums Chart to incorporate audio streams from next month.

The Official Albums Chart will include audio streams for the first time from next month (March, 2015), the Official Charts Company can confirm today.

The move to include streaming into the Albums Chart follows the successful addition of streams to the Official Singles Chart eight months ago and reflects the dramatic growth in streaming, which has doubled over the past year from 25 million streams a day in January 2014 to 50 million in January 2015.

The change will come into effect from the week of the BRIT Awards (wb February 23), with the first Official Albums Chart Top 100 incorporating audio streams being published on Sunday, March 1 2015 on

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The Official Albums Chart was born in 1956, with the first artist to claim the top spot being Frank Sinatra’s Songs For Swinging Lovers in the summer of that year. Since then, the chart has reflected Number 1s by artists as wide ranging as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Queen, Abba, Pink Floyd, The Smiths, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince, New Order, Oasis, Take That, Eminem, Rihanna and Adele.

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The first Official Albums Chart to incorporate streams will come into effect on the week beginning February 23, with the full Top 100 announced on Sunday, March 1 on and across Official Chart media partners including BBC Radio 1, The Sun, Music Week and more.

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.”

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The decision to include streaming into the Official Albums Chart reflects the platform’s massive growth in recent years. The number of tracks streamed in a year doubled from 7.5 billion in 2013 to just under 15 billion in 2014; that’s 25 million streams a day in January 2014, and just 12 months on we’re now at 50 million streams a day in the UK.

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A huge volume of these streams are delivered as a result of fans listening to albums. The most streamed album of 2014 was Ed Sheeran’s X, which generated more than 200 million track streams, while Sam Smith’s In The Lonely Hour notched up 140 million track streams, and George Ezra’s Wanted On Voyage 70 million streams.

>Check out the Top 40 most streamed albums of 2014 here.

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The streaming data which will count towards the Official Albums Chart will be collected from plays via Spotify, Deezer, Napster, Google Play, O2 Tracks, Rara, Rdio and XBox Music, all members of the Entertainment Retailers Association, co-owner of the Official Charts Company – along with record labels association the BPI.

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While the UK will not be the first market to introduce streams to their Official Albums Chart, it will be the first to do so using a new methodology designed to ensure that the rundown continues to reflect the popularity of the albums themselves, rather than just the performance of one or two smash hit singles.

Official Charts will take the 12 most streamed tracks from the standard version of the album, the top two songs will be down-weighted in line with the average of the rest. The total of these streams will be divided by 1000 and added to the physical and digital sales of the album (the 1,000 ratio is used to reflect the broad difference in value between a track stream and the price paid for an album).

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The reason for the down-weighting is to ensure that if an album features up to two runaway hit singles, streams of these tracks do not skew the performance of their parent album in the Official Albums Chart. Extreme examples of this include huge hits such as Blurred Lines on the Robin Thicke album of the same name, Get Lucky on Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, All Of Me on John Legend’s album Love In The Future, or Uptown Funk on Mark Ronson’s Uptown Special - but this is also a broader issue affecting many more albums.

Official Charts Company chief executive Martin Talbot added: “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.”

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Truth Sayer


Maybe you guys could give Billboard a few pointers on how to do this cos the Billboard 200 is now just a hot mess.


Brian Quinn


If one looks at streaming from a sociological perspective it is apparent that it has been introduced to appeal to younger music fans and therefore becomes an indirect form of ageism. Older music fans, used to keeping record collections, do not like downloading or streaming but prefer hard copies. There is now somewhat of a kickback from fans in the observation that Vinyl is becoming much more popular. As a result of the exponential growth of streaming, the record charts will become skewed towards the younger fan and artist alike. Of course the spin off from this is that business people know that teenagers are influenced by not just the music but by clothes and other fashionable pursuits advertised heavily on the social websites e.g. Spotify. Older people are not interested in trendy fashions or the latest mobile phone or tablet and hence their musical tastes will be downgraded chart-wise.




With hindsight, quite a prophetic comment. It's far more obvious in the singles charts than the albums charts (they've now basically become song charts), but this has truly destroyed any credibility the charts had. Streams could have been measured, but reported separately. Trying to pretend a stream is the same as some portion of a sale is just nonsense; deciding to listen to a track is quite different to deciding to exchange money for a copy of it.
Plenty of established artists have seen their singles completely fail in this last decade, while new artists completely dominate the top ten with every track from their album. The chart is not representing the music consumed by the nation, but the music consumed by fans of a few huge current artists. Gone is the diversity we had in e.g. the 90s, where most genres were represented in the chart. Chart records of multiple hits in the ten that have stood as unique moments for decades have been routinely broken by new rules creating situations that weren't possible before. The Beatles never have every track from their album in the singles chart not because they were incapable of this, but because they would have had to all being released and promoted as singles. Now someone playing an album on a streaming service contributes to the singles chart.
The album chart has seen less damage, and it actually now stands as a contrast to the singles chart. Established artists, who have long term fans who buy their albums, do well on one chart but don't appear on the other. For example, Kylie & Madonna have had #1 and #2 albums, but barely appear on the singles chart.
Another moment of contrast was last Christmas when everyone else finally got a look in on the singles chart and lots of older Christmas songs took the top slots. It says a lot about the popularity of current music when it is been beaten by 30 and 40 year old Christmas songs like those from Wham! and Mariah Carey. This is especially true when you look at the traditional singles chart i.e. sales only. A song by Arianna Grande which was in the top ten on the combined chart was in the 30s on the sales chart, while the Christmas songs were doing as well on both!