Search: key to chart success

I tuned into the UK singles chart for the first time in months yesterday. It was not, as you might justifiably think, an attempt to rekindle my youth, but more a revived interest in how new chart rules are affecting the UK’s top 40.

As many of you will already know, from 1 January, digital music downloads without a physical release were included in the Official UK Singles Chart for the first time. In the weeks following, this has led to singles such as Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’ and Snow Patrol’s ‘Chasing Cars’ re-entering the charts months after they were originally released.

Yesterday there was a bigger ‘surprise’ in store. Billie Piper’s hit ‘Honey To The Bee’ made a comeback on download sales alone entering at number 17, after DJ Chris Moyles urged his listeners to test new chart rules by buying the track.

I didn’t like the song the first time round, but the result proves how quickly music companies might lose control of the charts.

Their biggest weapon in the new chart battle is likely to be search, and labels like Warner Music have already been reported to be appointing heavyweight media agencies to step-up their digital presence.

The search industry is set to benefit heavily, as being able to find tracks quickly will be more important than ever.

As a random experiment, I typed ‘a moment like this’, the title of Leona Lewis’ number one hit, into Google, and was suprised to find that I had to scroll down to the ninth natural search result before I could see a link to a download of the song. There was one lonely sponsored link to her fan site, and nothing more. The music industry has a lot of waking up to do!

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