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> Article in the Sunday Times about the charts
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skankhunt42
post Jan 2 2018, 02:19 PM
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Excellent article highlighting what a joke the singles chart has become and how utterly incompetent the OCC are:

CHART CRAZINESS

Lisa Verrico

The singles chart was already a joke when Ed Sheeran turned it into a laughing stock. In February, the Suffolk singer had 16 songs in the UK Top 20 — nine of them in the Top 10. Sure, Sheeran is popular, but by that reckoning four out of every five pop fans in Britain had spent seven consecutive days listening almost exclusively to the same artist. Nonsense, obviously.



Sheeran’s domination was due to the success of ÷, his third album. Those 16 hits were simply every song on ÷, clearly the biggest album in the country that week. In the days of downloads — which already feels like a distant era — a handful of those tracks would have shown up in the Top 40. More likely, the album’s two lead singles, Shape of You and Castle on the Hill, would have sat at No 1 and No 2, and ÷ would have hit the headlines for outselling the other Top 40 albums combined.



While downloads predominantly disrupted the albums chart by allowing fans to cherry-pick the hits, streaming has made a mockery of both the singles chart and the Official Charts Company (OCC), the hapless organisation that sets the rules for measuring the success of pop songs. The OCC hasn’t just failed to get to grips with streaming, it has behaved as though it hasn’t a clue how it works. Your gran could have done a better job.



Since 2014, streams of songs have been combined with sales to compile the singles chart. Back then, about 40% of songs were streamed as opposed to purchased, whether as CDs or as downloads. The OCC decided that 100 streams would equal a sale. Everyone who understood streaming pointed out the glaring fact that you can’t compare how many times a track is listened to, often free, to how many people are prepared to put their hands in their pockets and pay for it.



Since then, streaming has snowballed, and that ludicrous discrepancy has corrupted a chart that was already struggling to remain relevant. Now about 90% of songs are streamed; more important, playlists dominate how we listen to music and discover new songs. In short, we usually aren’t even choosing the tracks we listen to. Even if we find a song forgettable, are too busy jogging/cooking/driving to hit the “skip” button or are paying no attention to what’s on in the background, the OCC counts us as a fan.



By the same stroke, if someone loves a song so much they have it on repeat, even while asleep, they count as an army of fans. That’s akin to claiming a CD breaks or a download disappears after 100 plays, and that every fan would rush to buy it multiple times.



Long before Sheeran stole the Top 20, the cock-up was obvious. When Drake’s unexceptional One Dance spent 15 weeks at No 1 in 2016, primarily because it appeared on lots of playlists, the sniggers turned into a sneer. Surely the OCC would have to head back to the drawing board? Er, no. Rather than search for a solution, it rumbled on, fudging its useless rules.



A year ago, it changed the sales/stream ratio from 1:100 to 1:150. But the ratio wasn’t the problem. When Sheeran proved that, it tweaked the rules again, like a child cheating at a board game. Now an artist is permitted only three tracks in the Top 100, and after three weeks of a song’s decline, the ratio should fall to 1:300.



Which would have socked it to Sheeran this year, but wouldn’t have made a jot of difference to Justin Bieber, who spent the summer clogging up the Top 5 with three songs on which he appeared as a featured artist. Under the new rules, had he also released an album, he could still have had six songs in the Top 10.



The solution, dear old OCC, is as obvious and easily definable as the problem — data. Streaming is awash with the stuff, and, used correctly, it could provide accurate stats for a sensible singles chart. Why not discount streams from playlists and only count those from standalone plays or searches? Or count only new, unique listeners to a song each week — one “discovery” per person. Data already does both those jobs.



Oh, OCC, please, just admit you were wrong and ditch the daft ratio. Count a stream saved to a device as a sale 1:1. If somebody is prepared to devote the memory on their mobile to a song they can listen to any time, they adore it. It’s just today’s way of taking the bus to HMV to buy the CD.
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vibe
post Jan 2 2018, 03:28 PM
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Completely agree.
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Mullo
post Jan 2 2018, 03:35 PM
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QUOTE(vibe @ Jan 2 2018, 03:28 PM) *
Completely agree.


me too
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Dobbo
post Jan 2 2018, 03:37 PM
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So they're trying to conclude that no-one cares about Charts anymore yet they had no trouble concocting a rambling essay about it.
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mic1812
post Jan 2 2018, 03:45 PM
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An interesting article
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gooddelta
post Jan 2 2018, 03:47 PM
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QUOTE(skankhunt42 @ Jan 2 2018, 02:19 PM) *
The solution, dear old OCC, is as obvious and easily definable as the problem — data. Streaming is awash with the stuff, and, used correctly, it could provide accurate stats for a sensible singles chart. Why not discount streams from playlists and only count those from standalone plays or searches? Or count only new, unique listeners to a song each week — one “discovery” per person. Data already does both those jobs.

Oh, OCC, please, just admit you were wrong and ditch the daft ratio. Count a stream saved to a device as a sale 1:1. If somebody is prepared to devote the memory on their mobile to a song they can listen to any time, they adore it. It’s just today’s way of taking the bus to HMV to buy the CD.


While the article makes some good points, and I agree that data could be used in a more sophisticated way to come up with a more relevant chart, the ‘solution’ is hardly as simple as the writer makes out. I don’t think there is one blindingly obvious way of ‘fixing’ the chart as there are so many variables in personal music consumption.



I often shuffle playlists but just skip songs I don’t want to listen to, should all my plays of songs I listen to in full be discounted, yet plays where I have actively searched for a song I know will be on the playlist anyway counted?



And what about playlists we have curated ourselves, which is where 90% of my personal streaming comes from? I have only ever actively searched out the song once, to add it in the first place, but it’s surely a favourite of mine by virtue of me adding it to a playlist.



And I certainly don’t adore every song I save to my device, often I’ll save New Music Friday so I can skip through it on the tube!


This post has been edited by gooddelta: Jan 2 2018, 03:47 PM
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The Snake
post Jan 2 2018, 03:51 PM
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What does 

 mean gooddelta? unsure.gif

QUOTE
Even if we find a song forgettable, are too busy jogging/cooking/driving to hit the “skip” button or are paying no attention to what’s on in the background, the OCC counts us as a fan.


Yep that the main problem with streaming making the chart I think. There is not much that can be done about it though.


This post has been edited by The Diplomat: Jan 2 2018, 03:52 PM
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Dircadirca
post Jan 2 2018, 03:53 PM
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QUOTE(skankhunt42 @ Jan 2 2018, 10:19 PM) *
When Drake’s unexceptional One Dance spent 15 weeks at No 1 in 2016

no less unexceptional than most of the long running #1's of old
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PeteFromLeeds
post Jan 2 2018, 03:54 PM
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Idk if the OCC are doing this anyway but I think the only real solution is for them to try compiling the Top 100 in the suggested ways behind the scenes to see whether it returns a fresh chart that doesn't feel manufactured or whether we'll just get a bunch of new entries in the Top 10 each week that all exit the Top 100 the week after.
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AcerBen
post Jan 2 2018, 04:08 PM
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QUOTE(gooddelta @ Jan 2 2018, 04:47 PM) *
While the article makes some good points, and I agree that data could be used in a more sophisticated way to come up with a more relevant chart, the ‘solution’ is hardly as simple as the writer makes out. I don’t think there is one blindingly obvious way of ‘fixing’ the chart as there are so many variables in personal music consumption.



I often shuffle playlists but just skip songs I don’t want to listen to, should all my plays of songs I listen to in full be discounted, yet plays where I have actively searched for a song I know will be on the playlist anyway counted?



And what about playlists we have curated ourselves, which is where 90% of my personal streaming comes from? I have only ever actively searched out the song once, to add it in the first place, but it’s surely a favourite of mine by virtue of me adding it to a playlist.



And I certainly don’t adore every song I save to my device, often I’ll save New Music Friday so I can skip through it on the tube!


Yeah. I agree with her that the chart is broken, but the recipe for getting a chart that means something and is beneficial for the music industry is a lot trickier to get right than she thinks.
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Doctor Blind
post Jan 2 2018, 04:15 PM
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Solution: Radio 1 to broadcast the BuzzJack MultiChart on a Sunday 2pm-5pm and drop the Official Chart on Fridays.
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Chez Wombat
post Jan 2 2018, 04:18 PM
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QUOTE(Dobservance @ Jan 2 2018, 03:37 PM) *
So they're trying to conclude that no-one cares about Charts anymore yet they had no trouble concocting a rambling essay about it.


I don't think the central point was no one cares about it, more that it's a total mess...which honestly, it is, whether you like the music in the chart or not, this whole thing is starting to actually not reflect exactly what people are buying/listening to.
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Evil Houdini
post Jan 2 2018, 04:21 PM
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Everything Lisa Verrico said is correct but I think the Official Chart is beyond repair now.

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JosephSivan
post Jan 2 2018, 04:40 PM
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I find it an odd article and one that makes out that the problem is greater than it actually is. Sure, it's difficult to compare one-off purchases with constant streams, but given those circumstances, the OCC have done a pretty damn good job of compiling a chart that feels mostly accurate, if imperfect. I'd be up for the OCC potentially introducing a system where only first-time plays are counted at a ratio of 1:1, provided that the system actually works and the OCC have trialled it, but this seems unlikely any time soon and it could just complicate things? Furthermore, downloading to a device via Spotify isn't quite the same. I only do that to a select few songs that can last me on my way to and from work.

The article is slightly bothersome as it exaggerates certain facts too. Sure, people can leave songs on repeat all night if they want to, but there's no mention of the 10 plays per day cap. That means that the maximum anyone can contribute to a particular song each week is less than half a sale. Furthermore, I don't think you can exclude every stream from a playlist. That's a ridiculous sweeping statement, assuming that everyone who listens to a playlist is doing so passively. Perhaps the 30 second marker should be moved later so any accidental streams can be avoided with more time to skip, but I don't think we can suggest how many people are passively listening to playlists instead of actively, because I know I'm always the latter.
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sammy01
post Jan 2 2018, 04:41 PM
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QUOTE(Chez Wombat @ Jan 2 2018, 04:18 PM) *
I don't think the central point was no one cares about it, more that it's a total mess...which honestly, it is, whether you like the music in the chart or not, this whole thing is starting to actually not reflect exactly what people are buying/listening to.


It is actually the exact opposite. Rather than the charts cater to those small fanbase acts where their cd single or download would all be purchased in 1 singular week to give an artificial high peak, those acts are ignored completely now. Those Saturdays, Girls Aloud or Westlife tracks that weren't actually that popular or at least top 10 in the general publics mind get judged on how the general public as a whole feel towards them now not a small percentage who were prepared to pay for music.

The problem with the chart now is it completely reflects the general public who like 4 songs each half a year and listen to them for months on end. It also reflects a hugely popular album now where people were listening to its tracks more than a front loaded Kylie Minogue song but back in the day those more listened to album tracks couldn't dent the charts.

The OCC has limited it to 3 tracks per album to stop the latter but I think there is little they can do against the former.
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JosephSivan
post Jan 2 2018, 04:44 PM
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QUOTE(sammy01 @ Jan 2 2018, 04:41 PM) *
It is actually the exact opposite. Rather than the charts cater to those small fanbase acts where their cd single or download would all be purchased in 1 singular week to give an artificial high peak, those acts are ignored completely now. Those Saturdays, Girls Aloud or Westlife tracks that weren't actually that popular or at least top 10 in the general publics mind get judged on how the general public as a whole feel towards them now not a small percentage who were prepared to pay for music.

Oh I would've loved to see how Girls Aloud would've done on Spotify if it existed back then, I think they'd have been way more popular than you're assuming....
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The Snake
post Jan 2 2018, 04:56 PM
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QUOTE
I'd be up for the OCC potentially introducing a system where only first-time plays are counted at a ratio of 1:1


That's what it should be, but first time plays within a certain time so the Christmas songs can still chart at Christmas etc.
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PeteFromLeeds
post Jan 2 2018, 05:02 PM
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QUOTE(The Diplomat @ Jan 2 2018, 04:56 PM) *
That's what it should be, but first time plays within a certain time so the Christmas songs can still chart at Christmas etc.

But if you downloaded a Christmas song, you wouldn't download the same song again next year?
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The Snake
post Jan 2 2018, 05:06 PM
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QUOTE(HaPetey New Year @ Jan 2 2018, 05:02 PM) *
But if you downloaded a Christmas song, you wouldn't download the same song again next year?


Actually it did probably happen in the download era before streaming counted towards the chart with The Pogues and Kirsty and Mariah Carey as they returned to the chart every year in the late 00s/early 10s! ohmy.gif


This post has been edited by The Diplomat: Jan 2 2018, 05:07 PM
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AcerBen
post Jan 2 2018, 05:10 PM
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QUOTE(JosephCarey @ Jan 2 2018, 05:40 PM) *
I find it an odd article and one that makes out that the problem is greater than it actually is. Sure, it's difficult to compare one-off purchases with constant streams, but given those circumstances, the OCC have done a pretty damn good job of compiling a chart that feels mostly accurate, if imperfect.


Why does it feel mostly accurate?

QUOTE(JosephCarey @ Jan 2 2018, 05:40 PM) *
I'd be up for the OCC potentially introducing a system where only first-time plays are counted at a ratio of 1:1, provided that the system actually works and the OCC have trialled it, but this seems unlikely any time soon and it could just complicate things?


That wouldn't work. Registering a whole sale from simply streaming a song for 30 seconds? Doesn't seem right to me. Also it would mean acts with huge fanbases would debut at #1 with ridiculously high sales and then fall off a cliff because everyone had already heard the song.

QUOTE(JosephCarey @ Jan 2 2018, 05:40 PM) *
Furthermore, downloading to a device via Spotify isn't quite the same. I only do that to a select few songs that can last me on my way to and from work.

The article is slightly bothersome as it exaggerates certain facts too. Sure, people can leave songs on repeat all night if they want to, but there's no mention of the 10 plays per day cap. That means that the maximum anyone can contribute to a particular song each week is less than half a sale. Furthermore, I don't think you can exclude every stream from a playlist. That's a ridiculous sweeping statement, assuming that everyone who listens to a playlist is doing so passively. Perhaps the 30 second marker should be moved later so any accidental streams can be avoided with more time to skip, but I don't think we can suggest how many people are passively listening to playlists instead of actively, because I know I'm always the latter.


Mostly agree with you here but don't forget that a lot of people aren't as sophisticated music lovers as we are here. A lot of people do just put Hot Hits UK, or Spotify Top 50 and leave it on, as if it's the radio.
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