Who are the Official Charts Company?

The Official Charts Company was formed in 1998 to manage the future development of the charts and control rights to the UK's historic charts. It is a joint venture between two key music industry associations – the BPI (British Recorded Music Industry) and ERA (Entertainment Retailers Association) and is responsible for the commissioning, marketing, distribution and management of the UK's official music and video charts.

What charts do the Official Charts Company compile?

The best known charts which we compile are the Official Singles Chart and the Official Albums Charts, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition, we compile the Official Video Chart for the home video industry and dozens of genre charts, covering areas such as rock, jazz, classical, dance and many more - all of them based on real, genuine sales from record shops across the country and digital stores. For a full list, click here

What is different about the Official Charts?

The Official Charts are unique because they reflect real sales, to British consumers, of physical and digital releass (CDs, DVDs, vinyl, downloads etc.) across a wide range of retailers - not just one retailer, but all significant retailers. In essence, they are the only charts reflecting what music people in the UK are buying, wherever they are buying their music from.

How do you create the charts?

The vast array of retailers supplying data provide us with information of all the sales they have made on a daily basis. These files are collated every day by our partner company Millward Brown - one of the world's most respected market research companies - and matched against databases of products (music and video) held by Millward Brown and our other partner, PPL Repertoire Database. The results of this process are verified throughout the week to ensure there are no errors in the data, before the final charts are published on Sunday. The end of week charts reflect all sales which have been reported from 00.01 Sunday, through to midnight Saturday.

Where do you collect sales from?

The simple answer is all significant retailers. In practice this adds up to retailers representing more than 3,500 over the counter shops, home delivery retailers and a wide range of digital stores. These stores span independent retailers (such as Rough/mail order Trade, Jumbo, Chalky's and many others, all around the country), high street chains (such as HMV, Fopp and WH Smith), supermarkets (such as Sainsbury's, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons), internet mail order (such as Amazon, Play.com and Recordstore.co.uk) and download services (iTunes, 7Digital, Amazon MP3, HMV, and others). As a result, we estimate that we capture around 99% of all singles sold, 98% of all albums and 90% of all videos/DVDs.

Do you count downloads?

Yes, we have counted downloads for more than five years now, within a couple of months of iTunes launching in the UK, when digital music was still a tiny proportion of all music sales. Five years later, by 2010, downloads account for 98% of all singles sold and 15% of all albums.

But, surely nobody buys music anymore?

That’s where you are wrong. In fact, sales of single track downloads have rocketed in recent years. In 2007, around 89m downloads were sold in the UK, a figure which rose to 115m the following year and to over 150m in 2009. It is worth noting that, even in the very peak years of old fashioned singles (vinyl or CD), sales never once topped 90m.

What about streaming?

At the moment, streaming isn't counted towards the charts. In Spring 2009, the Official Charts Company began gathering streaming data from an ad-funded service called We7. This is not being used in any charts straight away though – it is gathered simply for industry use, to assess the importance and power of streaming.  But this is expected to be the first step towards streaming contributing towards some charts – one day. The first stage will be the development of a standalone Official Streaming Chart. Before any streaming information is included in what have traditionally been sales charts, it will be subject to significant market research and consultation, taking into account the views of consumers and music industry professionals.

Can I see midweek charts?

Not unless you are in the music business, sorry. Midweek charts (or Sales Flashes) are used by the music industry as a guide to what is likely to happen in the final, end-of-week chart - they are available, under an embargo notice, to music industry online subscribers from Tuesday through to Friday from 10.30am. There is no official release or industry authorisation to release midweek information to the general public or the media. In fact, all official chart information is copyright protected – and the Official Charts Company will request any organisation distributing this copyright data without permission to cease and desist. In turn, further action may be taken if this request is not adhered to.

However, in March 2010 the Official Charts Company launched the Official Chart Update - broadcast each Wednesday on Radio 1 at 3.30pm - which is based on the industry-only Sales Flashes. The Update reveals how the runners and riders are selling in the first few days of the week, outlining the hottest new entires and the highest climbers for both singles and albums. You can see the Official Chart Updates here

Can I find out sales information on specific records?

Sales information on releases are only available to business users, for business purposes - due to a confidentiality agreement with the record companies, the Official Charts Company is unable to supply sensitive sales information to members of the public, even for academic study. However, the BPI has been collating information about the UK recorded music industry since its inception in 1973. Their BPI Statistical Handbook uses a vast array of Official Charts data and is an excellent resource for students, researchers and journalists to establish overall market figures – a selection of some of the data available is shown below. To order a copy, visit www.bpi.co.uk

Where can I see a full archive of charts?

For the first time, right here on this site. We are providing a full database of Singles, Albums and Compilation charts going back to 1960, right here.