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28 Aug 2004 >>Chart recognition for download generation 28 Aug 2004 >>Chart recognition for download generation

The new download music chart will launch on Wednesday and the number one slot could surprise.
Today US band Maroon 5 will rival Natasha Bedingfield to top the Top 40 chart, but the new download chart could have month-old music such as Outkast or even the late, great Jeff Buckley at number one.

A Westlife single that will never be released as a physical CD could also take the online top spot on Wednesday night.

The reason? Online music sales are being driven by the 20-, 30- and 40-year-olds who can afford iPods and MP3 players to listen to downloaded music on, while the official Top 40 is based on pop and dance music usually bought by teenagers.

Record companies have spent the past week furiously promoting their acts on websites and by e-mail, hoping to secure the first number one place in the first official download chart for the UK, which will be broadcast on Radio One on Wednesday.

Paul Clifford of the Official Charts Company (OCC), which is compiling the data from around 10 online music sources, told the Sunday Herald: “The chart is more conservative than you might think it’s going to be. Songs that have been out for months are in the top 10 at the moment ?Outkast’s Hey Ya is a case in point.

“That is because people aren’t as familiar with the technology, so they are buying familiar artists. There are also a number of tracks still being wrangled over to see if we can buy them online, so the tracks that people are looking for might not be available yet. New acts are taking a long time to show up on the download chart.?br />
The OCC has been compiling download charts for nine months now, but it has taken this long to get all the best- selling websites on board.

The first official countdown will be broadcast on Radio One on Wednesday night, with single sales made online from Saturday August 21 until yesterday lunchtime.

Single tracks are cheaper online, with a track from iTunes typically costing 79p compared with ?.99 for a top 40 CD single on the high street.

The OCC won’t reveal how many individual sales will be included in the download chart, but with 500,000 CD and vinyl singles sold each week in the UK it is thought about 100,000 download tracks are bought online.

That figure is growing each week, and a total of two million sales for the year would be achieved next month.

Martin Talbot, associate editor of industry bible Music Week, told the Sunday Herald the number one spot would be dictated by an older audience.

“You would think it is kids and teenagers that are driving online sales, but in fact it’s only people who can afford iPods and MP3 players who are taking advantage.?br />
Talbot predicts that the traditional Top 40 chart and the download chart will merge by the new year, causing headaches for retailers.

“When the charts merge, and I am sure that will happen round about Christmas time, retailers will have a problem ?if a download-only track sells enough to make it to number one in the download chart, and number 30 in the Top 40, retailers will have nothing to physically put on their shelves.

“Because music is being made available at different times online and in shops, there is a real concern from retailers that they will be left behind.?br />
A new TV show is also planned by Big Brother producers Endemol ?the weekly Orange Playlist will be broadcast on ITV from September. Featuring celebrities talking about their favourite downloads, it will also feature the download top 20 and a ringtone chart.

Endemol’s Peter Cowley said their audience would be older than the “CD:UK crowd?

“People who are downloading music are slightly older, and as people experiment with the internet the chart will reflect a mix of new music and stuff that has been about for a while.

“Music labels will have to change how they market artists because of the possibilities of downloads.?br />
Westlife are one act hoping for the top spot in the download chart this week, a position they unofficially held last year. Stuart Bell, a spokesman for the Irish boyband, told the Sunday Herald they are one of a growing number of groups who have recognised the importance of selling music on the web.

“Last year their download- only track called when A Woman Loves A Man was the first download number one for the UK, but the charts out on Wednesday will be the first official figures.

“The band have a track that has been on sale since Monday, a live version of Flying Without Wings, that will never be released as a physical single ?it’s a thank you for the fans.?


The very first UK chart was published in November 1952, and Al Martino claimed the number one spot with his hit Here In My Heart.

Talbot added: “This is the highest profile launch of a chart since the 1950s ?it is a completely new format that bypasses the high street. It is a mystery what is going to be at number one in the download chart on Wednesday because what people have been buying so far is very surprising.?

Source: Sunday Herald


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