Streaming the hottest new tunes on Spotify, Deezer or your Xbox will soon help your favourite artists zoom up the hit parade.
From July, the UK singles charts will count the number of times a song is played on streaming services along with single sales and downloads towards its chart position. Streams will be counted from services including Spotify, Deezer, Napster, 02 Tracks, Sony's Music Unlimited, Rara and Xbox Music.
Each song has to be streamed for 30 seconds to count as one stream. Because streams are effectively "free" -- most streaming services charge a flat fee after which a song can be streamed as many times as you like -- 100 streams will be weighted as the equivalent to one download or physical single.
The UK Singles Chart began tracking record sales in 1969. It's now managed, along with the album charts and various genre-specific countdowns, by the Official Charts Company, a joint venture between the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI) and Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) formed in the late 1980s.
Having moved with the times as new physical formats like cassettes and CDs were introduced, the singles chart added downloads in 2004 after the launch of iTunes, and now acknowledges the latest big shift in music listening. Music streaming more than doubled in the last year, from 100 million per week in 2013 to an average of 260 million streams in recent weeks.
Last year Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" was up all night to become the first track streamed a million times in a week, but no less than nine songs have already passed that milestone this year. "Rather Be" by Clean Bandit and "Waves" by Mr Probz have managed 1.5 million plays in a week.
The inclusion of streaming will be good news for some acts, such as Bastille, who with "Pompeii" recorded the UK's most streamed track ever -- over 26 million plays -- but never made number one in the chart. It won't have a huge impact in the heady upper reaches of the top ten however, with the Official Charts Company admitting that streaming services would have made a difference to the Number One single only once in the last eighteen months.
"We've been working with the OCC to contribute weekly data for almost two years," says Gerrit Schumann, Deezer's European vice president. "The charts should be a measure of the UK's music consumption and music streaming services are today a crucial part of that, particularly as we see weekly growth in the number of people using streaming services to listen to the music they love."
"I'm delighted that the UK's Official Singles Chart will now reflect the rapid shift in music consumption," says Kevin Brown, Spotify's Head of Label Relations for Europe. "Streaming's inclusion in the official chart is further validation -- were it needed -- that streaming is now part of the mainstream and is how millions of UK music lovers consume music every day."
Those music lovers consuming music by watching videos on YouTube won't be considered, however. The Official Charts Company says it's keeping an eye on video streams, but won't consider YouTube video streams for the moment.
It's also not clear how the chart compilers or streaming services will figure out abuse, such as fans playing a song on a repeated loop to juke the figures. An example of artists and fans gaming the system came earlier this year from, who raised money for a tour of their real music by releasing an album of silence designed to be played on continual repeat.
The first top 40 to include streaming will be broadcast on BBC Radio 1 on Sunday 6 July, and the week's Top 100 published on OfficialCharts.com.