Releasing your music

The first step to getting your music into the Official Charts is ensuring you are releasing and setting it up in the right way.

For artists, record labels and other rights holders, getting your music into the Official Charts is one of the most important measurements of success.

Releasing your music used to involve producing your own CDs, 7 or 12 inch singles and then beginning the process of getting these records into the shops. But, today, the digital age has given even the smallest label or newest artist the chance of releasing their music and… maybe… have a chart hit.

There are many things you need to get right to have a chance of doing this, not least finding (or writing) a song, recording it yourself, perhaps getting some plays on radio, and so on. But there are many books and online guides to having a hit record.

We want to provide some key pointers to make sure that if you get everything else right, and your music generates enough sales or streams, you don’t miss out on your chance of chart glory.

There are a handful of simple steps to follow to make sure you are entering the race:

  1. Registering a release - in short, you need to make sure your products have the correct identification codes – this means catalogue number and barcode for physical releases on CD or vinyl, ISRC for digital tracks, barcode for a digital bundle product (singles & albums). Then you have to ensure that these are registered with the correct bodies. Details of how to do this are provided here: Registering a release.
  2. Meeting the chart rules – before your product is registered, you need to ensure your release complies with the UK’s Official ‘Chart Rules’. These are rules that apply to physical and digital formats – unfortunately, if your release does not adhere to these rules (which are agreed with the industry) it will not be eligible for any of the published charts, although Official Charts will still track sales of the product providing it has been registered correctly. Full details are provided here: Meeting the chart rules.
  3. The chart retailers – before your release is registered and you are sure that it is going to be eligible for the charts, you need to make sure it is being sold through a chart reporting retailer, or digital service provider. In practice, this isn’t a major issue, as long as you are selling your music through a known retailer. You can have the greatest record in the world, but if it is sold through a stall at a car boot sale, it won’t be able to make the Official Charts. More details are available here.

On top of all of this, of course, you need to sell enough music to make the charts. The average Official Number 1 Single was streamed over 7.3 million times a week in 2022, while you needed 2.5 million streams to make the Top 20 and 1.7 million streams to make the Top 40. Likewise, you have had to sell around 30,000 copies (including stream equivalents) to become the Official Number 1 Album.

But there is no magic formula or special pointers we can give you for this. It’s over to you. Good luck!