Is Music Streaming Breaking The UK Music Charts?

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There are fewer new singles than ever in the UK top 40 chart. Drake’s ‘One Dance’ has been at number one for three months and looks to stay there, singles seem to get into the chart and just don’t want to budge, but why is this?

Drake’s single has achieved a 14th week in a row at number one, and could be well on the way to smashing Bryan Adam’s record as the current UK’s longest-running chart topper.

So you’d think this was the best-selling record of the last few weeks? Well it actually isn’t even in the top 10! The fact is ‘One Dance’ only topped the sales chart for the first three weeks of its reign at number 1. It’s only because of streaming data (which counts every 100 plays as one sale) that Drake has been able to cling on to his number one spot for this long.

The addition of counting streaming data as well as sales and the rise of music streaming has changed the way music charts are measured, by making consumption more important than actual sales.

To outline how much this has changed the music charts, just take a look at the first six months of the UK top 40 this year (2016), where there were 86 new entries. Whereas ten years ago that was a lot higher at 230.

This is great for big artists as they continue to rack up hit after hit, but new artists are finding it a lot harder to break into the charts.

So is music streaming to blame?

I think having music streams count towards sales in the chart is the correct way to measure sales, as music streaming is now how the majority of people consume their music. Maybe an answer is to count radio airplay as well?

Chris Price from BBC Radio 1 and 1XTRA, argues during an interview with NME, “We have this situation where editorial on streaming services counts towards the chart, whereas editorial on the radio, for example, doesn’t.”

So maybe by adding radio plays it could even the numbers in the chart by letting new artists get plays over the radio. Like the US already do in their charts.

Chris Price goes on to say “We’re asking serious questions, because as a new music station, we have to keep pushing the agenda forward,”

“So we’re even having to ask whether we keep Drake on the playlist. It would be, I think, unprecedented to take the number one record off the Radio 1 playlist. It didn’t happen with Bryan Adams… but we’ve got new music to break. We’ve got to satisfy our listeners’ impatience to hear new music.” he says.

But the problem could be pinned down to the way music is curated by streaming services, by promoting the big artists rather than indie music, these then gain more plays from listeners which translates into sales. By music streaming companies having playlists full of already big name artist and current chart hits, this surely can’t help artists who are trying to break into the UK charts.

Chris goes on to have a direct shot at the way music streaming is curated, “Radio 1 has been curating music for fifty-years, so I like to think that we’ve gotten pretty good at it in that time.”

“Streaming services have only been doing it for a very short time, they aren’t that great at it yet.”

So music streaming is hurting the UK music charts, it’s currently an unfair playing field where new artists are struggling to compete with already popular stars of the likes of Beyonce, Drake and Rihanna.

But, music streaming is not to blame, it’s the problem of not including radio plays in the chart, and the way music is curated by the music streaming companies to promote the biggest artists.

We don’t tell you what to listen to, we like free choice, we like free playlists, we let you Find What You Like.

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