Ariana Grande made history last week when her song “Problem” became the first ever UK single to reach #1 thanks to a combination of both streams and sales.
The UK’s Official Charts Company now treats every 100 streams on audio services like Spotify as equivalent to one single sale meaning that all those Spotify streams you’re getting now count towards your chart position. For more info on how it works, click here.
So, what does this mean for artists and their managers? It’s still early days but a number of trends and interesting changes are already emerging:
In it’s first week streaming contributed, on average, over 20% of chart position within the Top 40. That’s the equivalent of 1 in every 5 “sales” coming from streaming; a significant proportion. This proportion is also set to rise rapidly as the overall volume of streams in the UK continues it’s rise.
For context, In 2013 Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” was the first track to break a million streams in a week on Spotify in the UK but in 2014 alone more than 10 tracks have broken that record with 2 of them (Rather Be by Clean Bandit and Waves by Mr. Probz) reaching over 1.5m streams in a week (equivalent to 15,000 sales).
As Spotify and other streaming services continue to grow we’ll be seeing the amount of streams needed to hit #1 nearing 2m streams a week and as that volume increases the role streams will play in your chart position will become increasingly important.
Early Streaming Release
The profile of a hit on Spotify is very different to a hit in the world of sales where a song traditionally peaks in it’s first week and then tails off quickly. Instead, on Spotify, songs take longer to build as people discover the song in Spotify, online or on the radio over a matter of weeks. From there momentum builds as fans add the songs to their playlists and share it with friends. With streaming already contributing 20%+ of chart position, timing your peak streams week with your peak sales week is already strategically important.
As a result we’re seeing more and more artists release their tracks on Spotify early so that it can build momentum before it’s released for sale. This often falls in line with the concept of “On Air, On Spotify” where a song is made available to stream as soon as it is out in the wild on radio, YouTube, Soundcloud etc. This gives it a chance to build up streams and buzz to not only time the charts right, but also to build pre-orders of the track.
We’ll be reporting back here with data on the best way to time your schedule for different types of releases, however, on average we’re seeing songs peak anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks after release on Spotify.
This is obviously a big change in how artists, managers and labels plan their releases and we’ll report back here again soon with some more data and best practice to help you make strategic decisions.
Ed Sheeran’s X’er Effect
In the first week where streaming was included, every track on Ed Sheeran’s “X” was in the Top 100 chart: the first time this has happened in UK chart history.
With streams included it’s not just the songs that an artist chooses for their official singles that will see chart success. If you have a record that really hits home, it can be reflected in chart success all the way through the album.
Streaming only entries
In its second week of counting streams the UK chart saw it’s first ever entry based only on streams. Nico & Vinz – Am I Wrong, which isn’t available for sale in the UK yet, entered the chart at #72 on streams alone.
We’ll start to see songs climbing up the chart prior to going on sale and then getting a sales boost in their first sales week to take them much higher. This will reduce the emphasis on debut chart position and give artists and their teams more lead time toward the big impact date when the song goes on sale.
Whilst traditionally singles peak in week 1 and then quickly tail off, streaming grows more slowly and stays higher, for longer.
This means that as the proportion of chart contribution from streaming continues to rise, songs may stay in the charts for longer as their popularity on streaming services stays high.
Popular and longer lasting songs will get a longer look at the chart meaning more exposure and discovery.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on how the inclusion of streaming affects the UK chart and will revisit in future blog posts.
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