UK Download Chart Launches September 1

The Official Chart Company has announced that legal music downloads will be getting their own chart from September 1 2004. “The rapid growth of legal download music sites has shown the music industry that downloading is the future,” they said in a statement.

It looks like they’ve finally cottoned onto the fact that there’s not much point in doing a singles chart if only eight people are buying them. iTunes UK has sold 450,000 downloads since launch, against the 500,000 CD singles that were sold during the same period.

Now that we have a number of high-profile legitimate music download sites in Europe, there’s finally somewhere to collect reliable data from. ITunes, Napster and and others will be providing metrics. Where’s Bleep, eh?

Since those sites are doing very good business by all accounts, it’ll be interesting to see what total sales numbers are. I personally can’t wait to see what effects demographic spread, the complete lack of content from some labels, and the fact that under-18s don’t have credit cards will have on the new chart. However, when The Beatles’ back catalogue finally comes online, the charts will be entirely dominated by those irritating mop-topped shriekers once again.

The number one downloaded track last week was the Pixies’ Bam Thwok, which is an iTunes exclusive. Happily this reinforces my point about the demographic skewing of the new chart: the last time the Pixies were number 1 was …. never, having last bothered the single-buying public in 1991 with a brief stint at 27.

The BBC is considering broadcasting the chart on Radio One. Surely they should be webcasting it?

The Official Chart Company

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?