Freddie Matthews writes from London: Think about how we access our music nowadays and I think about how we used to do it 30 years ago.
You Tube now is what MTV was 30 years ago. If you remember when MTV Europe launched on 1 August 1987, except for radio, it was a brand new way to access music. Music Television’s major launch was MTV in the USA on 1 August 1981. The first music video ever broadcast was by The Buggles with Video Killed The Radio Star whereas in Europe some 6 years later that first video was Dire Straits and Money For Nothing.
What I’m getting at with an MTV analogy is that music TV was how we accessed any new music content just over 30 years ago. Ok, not on demand but it was 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, wall-to-wall music but of course with plenty of adverts thrown into the mix as well. Today’s MTV still exists but I like to think of today’s kids utilizing the internet site You Tube as we did MTV all of those years ago.
So, while You Tube racks up its tens of millions of views and is the way the kids of today access music, then why aren’t those video plays, or to use the correct terminology ‘streams’, being used towards the music charts? They weren’t, until now that is!
In the USA, The Billboard Chart now takes into account video streaming data in the compilation of the Billboard Top 100 and about time too; but Sweden has been doing it for years! However, that said The Billboard Hot 100 was never a purely sales-based chart as it also accounts for radio airplay. That factor is why this new move is altogether more manageable. It’s also the factor as to why the UK Official Charts company has said that it will not take streaming of videos into account when compiling the UK Top 100 weekly singles chart. The UK chart has been in existence since its origins in 1952 and is purely based on sales, physical and downloads and there are no plans to change that.
Where I think the UK is missing the boat and an opportunity to get with the times, is because The Official Chart company does have a separate streaming chart as a listing each week. S0 why not combine the two and have the definitive UK Top 100 chart? Surely it doesn’t matter where the source originated? It’s bad enough that there are also 2 different chart companies in the UK, with two entirely different chart listings from either iTunes or The Official Charts company so it’s all bloody confusing. I actually feel sorry for the artists: a song might have a UK iTunes No.1 but that same song might not have actually even charted with the Official Chart company yet and this is because the iTunes chart is live to the second, while The Official Chart company is a weekly count.
While so many different companies continue to profit from general record sales in whatever format the number of charts will never change. The US Billboard Chart has made a little change and massively for the better in my opinion but it’s time for others to follow and not sit around waiting for the business ramifications.
It screams old men confused by new technology, which is never a good thing.