Will streaming chart give a true picture?

It was announced last week that the popularity of music streamed through services like Spotify and We7 is to be measured in a weekly chart.

For now the chart will remain separate to the official chart but I imagine the two will eventually merge just as they did when the download chart and official chart merged back in 2005.

When I first heard this I thought a streaming chart was a great idea and would give a truer reflection of what people are listening to. According to the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones there were 2.6 billion audio streams in the UK last year compared with 177 million single track downloads.

What this means is that the streaming chart will be made up of 15 times more data than the official chart. With this in mind it seems only right to merge the charts to give a more accurate picture.

But will the streaming chart really give a truer reflection of what people are listening to?

Firstly the streaming chart omits data from music videos streamed on YouTube, the second most popular search engine after Google. With Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’ being the most viewed music video on YouTube that may be no bad thing, but secondly it ignores the fact that many artists still refuse to share their music on sites like Spotify.

Take for instance The Black Keys, the American rock group has produced, in my opinion, one of the albums of the year in ‘El Camino’ but the album is not available to listen to through music streaming websites.

The album has so far reached number 16 in the official UK album chart and number two in the US Billboard chart. Were the official chart and the streaming chart to merge El Camino wouldn’t even feature. And that’s despite the millions of people who bought the album to blast it out of their bedroom hi-fi every night for a month, me included.

With other artists including The Beatles, Oasis, Arcade Fire and led Zeppelin  all restricting what they make available on streaming sites, the streaming chart is unlikely to really reflect what’s being listened to.

This leaves bands like The Black Keys with a choice, allow their music to be streamed or have their music confined to chart obscurity.

N.B

Writing a post referencing Spotify finally gives me the opportunity to show off one of the newest features of the music sharing site – an embedded music player. Below I’ve used the player to show a personal chart of my most streamed music on Spotify.