Posted on Saturday, January 7, 2017
by Paul in Music
The chart for the week after Christmas is traditionally an oddity; the Christmas singles all disappear, a bunch of tracks getting year-in-review airplay rise to fill the void, and not much else goes on. This year, we have added wrinkle. When streaming data was added to the chart, it raised a new issue for the chart. Instead of just counting sales, there was now a subjective element: how to weight sales against streams? They went for 100 streams = 1 sale. Starting this week, that’s been changed to 150, which tilts the balance somewhat back in the direction of sales (though if streams keep growing, it won’t be long before we’re back where we started).
Is this a more refined view of the respective value of sales and streams (whatever “value” might mean in this context), or just an attempt to get some more movement into the chart, which was unusually sluggish in 2016? Probably the latter, because while the chart is officially there to measure popularity, its unspoken function is to serve as a publicity device; and to do that, it needs people to pay attention; and to get people to pay attention, it needs stuff to happen. But you can make a case that things had become imbalanced: tracks that were selling strongly but lacked streaming support were missing the top 40 altogether.