This year's digital Christmas number one

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 23 December 2007

Today we'll find out what is the UK's Christmas Number 1 for 2007, following in such luminary footsteps as Bob The Builder's "Can We Fix It?", Mr Blobby's "Mr Blobby" and the unforgettable St Winifred's School Choir with "There's No-one Quite Like Grandma".

It is the first year that sales of tracks that are only available as digital downloads will count towards the chart, as the last major chart rule-change occurred in January 2007.

The biggest Christmas music story has either been the X-Factor voting 'scandal', 'fix' or 'sour grapes' depending on your point of view, and the Radio 1 'faggot' row. We'll find out today whether all the publicity surrounding The Pogues track has been enough to propel it higher up the chart.

Prior to the rule change last year, a 'shadow' chart using the new rules over last Christmas suggested that Mariah Carey would have performed well on digital sales alone. That seems to be the case this year, with 'All I Want For Christmas' cruising at the top of the iTunes downloads chart, and, according to the midweek chart, on the fringes of the top 3.

"Fairytale of New York" would also be a track that could do well on digital sales alone, but it was actually physically reissued this year as well. It would be interesting to see the proportions of sales that were physical compared to digital.

We've had a year of the UK's chart de-coupling digital sales of a track from them having an individual single release. It has resulted in an unsigned band, KOOPA, getting into the charts. Unsigned in this case doesn't quite mean the same as it used to - although KOOPA are not formally signed to a label, clearly they had to have digital distribution in place at an audited online chart return store like 7Digital.

One predicted thing that hasn't happened is artists clogging up the higher reaches of the charts simultaneously with lots of single sales of tracks from an album upon release. It seems that the power of radio and TV to focus consumers on one track at a time is very much still in place.

This is all the kind of information that I'd naturally go to the Music Week site for, but, just as the music industry has been slow to adopt digital sales and marketing, so Music Week has been slow to adapt to the world of the web.

Music Week logo

Music Week is the definitive trade magazine of choice of the music industry, and keeps precious industry data behind a subscription firewall. So, whilst you can freely view the UK's Top 40 on the BBC's website, and the whole Top 75 on Yahoo!'s music site - if you go to Music Week, the chart is members only data.

Honestly, just take a moment to think about that. The trade magazine for the music industry thinks that the listing of what is in the Top 75 singles chart is an industry secret worth putting behind a subscription barrier.

1 Comment

Or you might say that seeing as the ups and downs that the consumer is interested in are freely available elsewhere, then there's no point in Music Week publishing (and paying the price to do so) of the general chart data widely, and their subscribers can access the more detailed information that they provide, which is of interest to them as normal.

And let's not forget where Yahoo's music site came from in the first place.

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