Showing the increasing importance of streaming services to the music industry, it's been announced that the UK album charts will factor in streamed plays from the likes of Deezer and Spotify from March.
As well as Spotify and Deezer, plays from Google Play, Napster, Xbox Music, Rdio, Rara and O2 Tracks (Musicqubed) will also be counted. YouTube, not strictly a "music service" is notable in its absence, considering many young people use it as their primary listening stop. However, the expected launch of YouTube's Music Key service later this year would likely change that.
It's a tricky business counting album streams compared to singles though, which have been counted by the UK's Official Chart Company since July. What if only the first half of an album has the "hits" and, the second half is left unstreamed? A physical sale would encompass all the tracks, whereas the pick-and-mix listening tastes of streamers do not.
The Official Chart Company has a relatively reasonable system worked out to deal with it.
It will look at the 12 most-popular tracks from each album on streaming services, then down-weight the top two based on the average of the next 10. This stream count will then be totted up and divided by 1,000, giving a nattily named "stream factor" that can be added to the physical sales and digital downloads of the album for an overall stat.
Just going to leave my self-published album on repeat then...
The new system will come into play from February 23rd, and may have a significant impact on the charts. This week's number one for instance is Bob Dylan's Shadows in the Night, with Ed Sheeran's X in second. With Ed Sheeran by his own admission owing his whole career to streaming services, and being incredibly popular on them as well as selling physical records, it's possible Dylan wouldn't have made the top slot.