Archives July 2020

New Rules Implemented Onto The Irish Charts

This week we see a huge difference in how the charts are formulated each week but I ask, it is enough? Or should more be changed?

Let me go through this with you. All this information is public domain and available on

Now let’s start here: The IRMA chart is compiled by Official Charts Company and covers artists from both Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.  The chart is supported by RTE as part of The Official Chart Show on 2FM every Friday night from 8-10pm, host Bláthnaid Treacy unveils the biggest Homegrown singles of the week, with the full Top 20 appearing on

This week sees new rules implemented onto the chart. Just one song per artist will be featured, being eligible for 13 weeks.

This could fair very well for women in music who are releasing. It means they won’t be faced with 3, 4, 5 releases by the same male act and up against multiple releases as they always have been. The playing field just got a whole lot more interesting. I foresee a lot more women breaking into the charts over the coming months… I may be wrong but…I may be right. (I know I will be right). Especially when radio realises it should be playing more women. (They eventually will, you will see!).

For example let’s move to the ‘Biggest homegrown singles’ released in 2020…

Picture This claim multiple songs in the year-to-date Top 10 biggest songs by Irish acts. The chart-topping group, who recently claimed their 15th Top 50 hit on the Official Irish Singles Chart, sit in the runner up slot with Winona Ryder, while Troublemaker ranks sixth. This isn’t any surprise as Irish Radio have been backing this band on high rotation. And they featured heavily in the recently published report outlining the gender disparity on Irish Radio. You can read that here.

Kodaline’s Wherever You Are and Sometimes are fourth and fifth, while Gavin James’ Top 50 single Boxes is eighth. Alt-rock Dubliners The Coronas are ninth with Haunted, taken from their upcoming album True Love Waits, and Dermot Kennedy is tenth with Resolution; the Matt Corby cover is taken from the bush fire relief compilation album Songs for Australia. I mean what are the chances of the biggest songs of 2021 including more women, or even one woman?

The Official Top 10 biggest songs of 2020 so far by Irish acts, is made up of an all ‘male’ list- again it’s a no brainer as to why this is… Irish radio heavily back male acts and it is then reflected in streams and downloads from an ever growing fanbase.

Question: If Irish radio backed its female acts in a gender balance across their playlists with an even representation would we be seeing a very different state of affairs than the below 100% all male cast? I’ll be keeping a close eye on this list as the year rolls out and in 2021.


©2020 IRMA/Official Charts Company. All rights reserved.


Irish music is celebrated each and every week with the Official Irish Homegrown Top 20, the only chart solely focusing on artists from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Today on Friday (July 10) sees new rules implemented onto the chart. Just one song per artist will be featured, being eligible for 13 weeks. Eligibility rules can be found by clicking here.

The Official Top 10 biggest studio albums of 2020 so far by Irish acts are listed below. May I just say congrats to Cormac O Caoimh a former client of mine, he is such an absolute gent and so deserved of any success he gets as he is a masterful musician and to the gems that are Hudson Taylor who recently stood in solidarity with the Gender Disparity and Imbalance across Irish radio.


©2020 IRMA/Official Charts Company. All rights reserved.

When the very first charts were compiled by the New Musical Express more than 60 years ago, the process was a simple one – pick up the phone, call a few retailers and note down their sales to create the first sales charts in UK history. Today, six decades later and in a completely new millennium, the process could not be more different.

The Official Charts Company prides itself on providing the entertainment industry with the fastest and most accurate charts in the world. For the past 20 years, Leamington Spa-based Kantar has been the industry’s appointed chart compilation contractor – managing the vast databases and product identification processes on behalf of the Official Charts Company.

In Ireland & the UK, the music sector operates a Friday to Thursday chart week (sales counted from 00:01 Friday – 00:00 Thursday), while the video sector operates a Sunday to Saturday chart week (sales counted from 00:01 Sunday – 00:00 Saturday). So, it is just after midnight on Saturday morning (Monday morning for video) that Kantar receives the first feeds of data from the 15,000-plus chart-reporting retailers, who together represent an estimated 99% of the singles market, 98% of the albums market and 90% of the video market in Ireland, Northern Ireland and the UK.

This daily data-delivery process continues through the week, with music data delivered just after midnight on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and then Thursday. 

Through the week, all of these sales are matched against databases of products (music and video) held by Kantar and verified day by day.

By Friday morning, the final day’s music data is added and, by lunchtime, industry clients are receiving their first glance of the week’s totals. This data is offered with multiple breakdowns of every title’s weekly performance – daily breakdowns, plus by region, format and retailer type (with all retailers categorised as either general/specialist, supermarkets, independents and digital).

The complexity of this rapid process should not be under-estimated – in many other key markets, the charts take several days to be delivered to the business, not just the few chart hours in which the UK charts & data are compiled. The process has become increasingly complex in recent years too, through the addition to the chart survey in 2004 of download sales (which grew to double the sales volumes of single sales in the biggest pre-digital eras) and, in 2014, of streaming.

The Official Charts Company has been collecting streaming information since 2008 (when the Official Subscription Plays Chart was launched) but only in 2014 did streaming finally enter the core Official Charts. The first to take on board audio streams was the Official Singles Chart from the beginning of July 2014 – with 100 audio streams (drawn from services such as Spotify, Deezer, Napster and O2 Tracks, among others) equating to 1 single purchase. In July 2018, video downloads and streams were incorporated for the first time.

While the addition of streams represented a hugely significant change in the history of the charts, it should also be seen as the latest step in the evolution of Ireland and the UK’s Official Charts.

In the earliest days of the UK’s singles chart, the dominant format was the 10-inch vinyl single. Since those days, the 10-inch has been superceded by multiple different formats – over the years, 7 inch, 12-inch, cassingles, 8-track, Digital Compact Cassette, MiniDisc, Compact Disc, USBs, UMD, DVD, Blu-ray, downloads and streams have all had their day, and have all been tracked in Official Charts.

And as technology and consumption habits continue to evolve, so will the Official Charts. However we must ask questions with this change. We all known that streaming is the way of the future. But there has to be a way to have International artists streaming numbers excluded or less % of them count towards the actual Irish Charts.

Spotify playlists created ‘in Ireland for Irish artists’ predominantly run the same way radio playlists are formed and by whom… in Ireland its James Foley who is one of the biggest playlisters – a white male who never ever answers his emails, yes you guessed it! Some of the Irish playlists have less than 45,000 followers meanwhile UK and International playlists have millions of followers. Meaning that the playlists for Ireland and Irish acts don’t have much impact on streams because they have such lower followings.

It all depends on playlist allocation on Spotify!

And being added to a playlists does not necessarily mean that the song is there because of demand. Nope. It just means some playlister allocates a song he chooses to be placed on a playlist and it generates a massive amount of streams for the artist that then goes on to count for chart inclusion. If the bigger playlists get bigger listeners, it means Irish Spotify playlists for Irish artist never actual equate to anything of worth, due to the low reach in listeners, and Irish artists never reach peak Top Chart positions in their own country!

The Official UK Chart is calculated by sales as well as both music and video streams, with a variable streaming ratio depending on whether the user has a free or paid subscription. This means that 100 paid streams will equal one sale, as will 600 free streams. I need to check if Ireland operates the same way. So expect a follow-up post on this.

In the UK, for example, if your track gets 100,000 paid streams across the various online music & video platforms like Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music and other, they will be counted as 1,000 sales by the charts and included in your final sales total, whereas you’d need 600,000 free streams to generate that same number. Other sales include both paid digital downloads and physical releases.

How many sales do I need to get into the Official UK charts?

In recent years, the average UK Top 40 single will have made at least 8,000 sales, while the number one track will have sold around 100,000 copies. The figures for the Official UK album chart are similar, with the average top 40 album selling over 4,000, and the number one typically achieving sales of around 60,000.

Best known for the Official Singles Chart and the Official Artist Albums Chart, the Official Charts Company actually compiles more than 50 charts of different shapes, sizes and flavours – including a vast array of music genre charts and the Official Charts for the home entertainment industry, including the weekly Official Video Chart and the Official DVD and Blu-ray rundowns. You can read a good article on Ditto about how charts are calculated here.

A full schedule of the charts compiled by the Official Charts Company is outlined here: All the Official Charts. Many of these charts are incorporated into the new consumer-facing database hosted on – for some pointers on how to get the most out of this resource, check out their handy guide here.

In addition to high profile weekly announcements, RTE in Ireland and BBC Radio 1 in the UK also began broadcasting the Official Chart Update providing listeners with a summary of the biggest releases of the week to date.

In parallel with these publically available charts, the Official Charts Company also operates a range of data services for the entertainment industry.

The vast volume of data collected each week provides the basis for the music and video industry’s definitive market insight.

In turn, the data provides insight for key record labels, video studios/distributors and entertainment retailers (as well as a range of overseas clients) to assess the success of their projects on a day-by-day, week-by-week basis. These services are available only to entertainment industry professionals, on a subscription and one-off basis – details for these services are available here: B2B data.

The synchronicity at play between how music is presented, streamed, played and platformed is changing fast, as is how artists and bands being broken commercially onto the market. Each platform plays a vital role that impacts an artists success.

If, and IF being the comparative word here, Irish radio stations enforce a change of how the playlists are chosen to represent a gender balance across their stations, then the reflections and ripples in the music scene as a whole would lead to massive alterations in how women and men coexist in the musical marketspace and landscape. As Spotify runs on pure chance, and heavily by white men curating the playlists too.

Food for thought eh?

An Open Letter To His Excellency Michael D Higgins, President of Ireland

To his Excellency Michael D Higgins,

My name is Linda Coogan Byrne, my colleague Áine Tyrrell has been on to you also, as we are a united front, there will be many more women sending you a similar type of call to action email. I hope, you, as a feminist understand. 

We thank you for the ethical remembering you have brought to all corners of your presidency. Michael, you are a wonderful President we can be proud of. I met you a few times in Galway when I studied Renaissance Instrument making under the apprenticeship with Master Luthier Paul Doyle way back when I was only 19. There were many nights in the old wine bar on Dominick St in Galway were politicians and artistic minds alike gathered and spoke about the Ireland we wanted to create. I was 19 and in awe. I am now 37 years old and I wish to resume this conversation. Openly, and transparently. 

You are incredibly inspirational. Your speeches are powerful and poetic and are changing the fabric of Ireland to a more empathetic and deep listening country. I was so happy when you became President as you are and always will be one of our finest members of the community. 

To quote a statement you made in 2018 “I am proud to call myself a feminist. I believe global feminism has been a transformative source of new thinking… I’m heartened to see a renewed, inclusive, confident, feminism.” 

Michael D Higgins, President of Ireland

I just want you to know your words still resonates and have empowered so many women, including myself to rise up against misogynistic and sexist models that are visible in almost every corner of the globe but right now I speak of Ireland.  

Today I write to you on the injustice inflicted on our female musicians in Ireland and I am hoping that you can turn your power and poetry to something that needs urgent attention. 

You are our Feminist President and at this time we need men to help elevate our voices on some industry truths that have been muting and hurting our female musicians and as of today, only a handful of Irish men in the music industry have been brave enough to stand with us. I published a report outlining the Gender Disparity across Irish Radio stations, you can view it here:

You are a leader and we need our leader to help us. Ni Saoirse go Saoirse na mBan. I know when you read this report, that you will see this is not the type of Ireland that you want to see reflected in the time of your presidency.

As you have stated so powerfully so many times if in today’s current climate we are not seeking to INCLUDE the voices of those who have been historically silenced. We need to Re-Member our women and join them back into the conversation so that we do not just repeat the patterns of exclusion and selective history retelling. We need to do better for our future generations of women. 
Please take this letter as a request to draw your attention to THE GENDER DISPARITY ON IRISH RADIO

This report came about by my many years working in the music industry and seeing how female acts have been treated differently. I used my time in COVID to collect the data from RadioMonitor to see where the disparities were occurring. I reached out to Áine Tyrrell, RuthAnne and a handful of other Irish female musicians and asked would they all stand with me to release this report. Once the women all saw the data, they could not sit quietly anymore. It is shocking. It has not only shocked the women of the industry but the men too. You are free to read some of our countries finest male members of the music industry make statements on the findings on the report here:

At the end of this letter, I have also given you links to many of the press coverage articles in Ireland that have been so supportive of us and this movement about this issue. We celebrate Rte Radio 1 for their continued support of women and truly are honoured to know they work so hard to make sure they reach a 50/50 quota, but we are shocked to see ALL the other stations fall very short of any sort of gender equity and also the fact that only 1 member of POC or LBGTQI+ community amongst these figures male or female as well (we are hoping to release the next phase of this report soon to address these inequalities). 

Ireland is such an incredibly diverse country and the fact that so many voices are being excluded from our airwaves is very disheartening. It does not reflect who we are as a nation and definitely does not reflect the incredible wealth of female talent our country boasts. 

I know you, yourself, have invited so many Irish women to attend and sing at many of your functions at the Áras an Uachtaráin and other places abroad and I am sure it will hurt you and your wife Sabina to know that these are the women that have performed for you who struggle to make a living in our country due to the exclusion of our voices on the radio.

We have been advised that this is indeed a breach of our human rights as Irish women. This exclusion from radio breeches our right to a fair and equitable living within Ireland. I am sure you are aware that one section of the music industry affects the other and therefore our musical ecosystem in Ireland is failing women on so many other levels; with under-representation of females on festival line ups, on major labels, and booking agents.

We are committed to great change. 

We are committed to coming out of COVID with a “New Normal” on what we want our Irish Music Industry to reflect and support. 

But we need your help. We are a few Irish women from different corners of the globe fighting to make this report be the change we want to see, but we can only reach so far.  With your support, we could reach and achieve far greater.  We welcome a statement from you of any kind.  We welcome a meeting online or in-person to discuss these findings and our personal experiences.  We welcome you to engage with the conversation and help us not be the forgotten women of this decade.  We have already lost a decade of Irish women on radio and we refuse to lose another. 

The first time I met you back when I was 19 in Galway your humble power to hold court was something that at even a young age I found inspiring. As did many others. 

I know that YOU ARE THE VOICE that will help your Irish sisters on getting their songs and stories heard. You are the eloquence and power that we need. Please consider holding court for the Irish women of the music industry.

Go raibh mile maith agat, 

Le Meas, 
Linda Coogan Byrne













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IV with Linda and Riverside Radio (London)