Ed Sheeran’s phenomenal Spotify success is raising doubts with some over the integration of streaming data in the official charts, as the UK top 20 currently features all of Sheeran’s new album.
Sheeran released his third album ‘÷’ just two weeks ago and has since been totally dominating Spotify, breaking records, and now he’s taken over the official UK charts. Thanks to the inclusion of music streaming in charts data Sheeran’s massive album success on Spotify has pushed every single track on Divide onto the Top 20 singles chart.
However, whilst Sheeran may be laughing his way to the bank his chart dominance is causing concern for some in the industry who feel it’s unfair for an artist to have such a complete hold over the charts, especially as rising artists struggle to make an impact. Currently, only 4 of the top 20 Singles in the chart are held by artists that aren’t Sheeran.
Worldwide Independent Network’s chief executive, Alison Wenham said that whilst Sheeran was undoubtedly “wildly, incredibly popular” his chart domination with ‘Divide’ has a “certain chill factor in the charts”. She continued: “Having Ed Sheeran dominate virtually the whole of the Top 20 is indicative of the fact it is evolving and the rules will need to be examined fairly regularly in terms of the conversion – how many streams equals a download.”
Streaming figures were integrated into the UK charts to represent music popularity more accurately, especially as single purchases continue to plummet. The current conversion rate means that 150 plays of a song on Spotify counts as a sale towards their chart performance. Wenham however disagrees with the change, arguing that the charts should have “a degree of value associated with it, people have paid to listen to it.”
The president of music managers group MMF, Jon Webster also feels that the new system needs a “drastic rethink”, saying: “You should be looking at two different things: what’s happening in streaming and what’s happening in sales. You can’t mix them. It ends up in two different metrics and that’s the problem. When you were a kid and you bought a single, if you played it 500 times over five weeks it was still only one sale. But now we’re having that 500 times over five weeks in the chart. We live in a different world, and we need a different chart for a different world.”
Despite the criticism though, the Official Charts Company’s chief executive Martin Talbot says that they will not “rush to any kneejerk actions” due to Sheeran’s success. Whilst Sheeran’s chart domination does suggest a flawed system, he is by no means the precedent and is anomalous in his ridiculously successful streaming performance.
What do you think, is the system broken or is the implementation of streaming via 150 streams to a sale a fair inclusion?