Who are the Official Charts Company?

The Official Charts Company was formed 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 trade 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.

Which 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.

What is different about the Official Charts?

The Official Charts are unique because they reflect real sales to British consumers, of audio and video releases across a wide range of retailers - not just one retailer, but all significant retailers. In essence, they are the only charts accurately reflecting what people in the UK are buying.

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. 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. These retailers span independent stores, high street chains, supermarkets, internet mail order and download services. As a result, we estimate that we capture around 99% of all singles sold, 98% of all albums and over 90% of all videos/DVDs.

Do you count downloads?

Yes, we have counted music downloads since 2004, within a couple of months of iTunes launching in the UK, when digital music was still a tiny proportion of all music sales.

What about streaming?

At the moment, streaming isn't counted towards the charts. In Spring 2009, the Official Charts Company began gathering streaming data. 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 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 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 4pm and each Thursday on MTV at 3pm - which is based on the industry-only Sales Flashes. The Official Update reveals how the runners and riders are selling in the first few days of the week, outlining the hottest new entries and the highest climbers for both singles and albums. You can see the Official Chart Updateevery Wednesday at 4pm on www.officialcharts.com.

Can I find out sales information on specific releases?

Sales information on releases are only available to business users, for business purposes - due to a confidentiality agreement with the music and video 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.ukThe BVA (British Video Association) also compile a statistical yearbook which can be ordered via www.bva.org.uk.

Where can I see a full archive of charts?

For the first time, right here on this site. You can access our Vault, where you can search our full database of Singles, Albums , Compilation and Video charts going back to 1960, right here. Search for your favourite artists, charts, singles and album titles by filling in the relevant field on the top right.

Check out the Featured Artists page for interviews and chart facts about some of the biggest acts in chart history.