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 https://www.officialcharts.com/.

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 OfficialCharts.com/Ireland.

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.

#TITLEARTISTCHART POSITION
1NO JUDGEMENTNIALL HORAN6
2WINONA RYDERPICTURE THIS20
3BLACK AND WHITENIALL HORAN18
4WHEREVER YOU AREKODALINE66
5SOMETIMESKODALINE94
6TROUBLEMAKERPICTURE THIS38
7HEARTBREAK WEATHERNIALL HORANN/A
8BOXESGAVIN JAMES48
9HAUNTEDTHE CORONAS91
10RESOLUTIONDERMOT KENNEDYN/A

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

© IRMA

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.

#TITLEARTISTCHART POSITION
1HEARTBREAK WEATHERNIALL HORAN1
2LOVING EVERYWHERE I GOHUDSON TAYLOR1
3A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO BRAVERYDAVID KEENAN6
4ONE DAY AT A TIMEKODALINE2
5COULDN’T GIVE A RATSTHE SCRATCH9
6CITIZENS OF BOOMTOWNTHE BOOMTOWN RATS12
7NO FUTUREEDENN/A
8SWIM CRAWL WALK RUNCORMAC O CAOIMH74
9LAND OF NO JUNCTIONAOIFE NESSA FRANCESN/A
10BIRTHMARKSHILARY WOODSN/A

©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 OfficialCharts.com – 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?

Published by lindacooganb

I am an entertainment publicist, social media expert, activist, artist, and writer. Besides the obvious love for music, art and words; I hold great passion for gender equality, diversity, film, food, psychology, theatre, travel, health & fitness. I also have a diploma in nutrition.

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