THE BLOG

Why the Official UK Charts Have Moved

11/07/2015 23:28 BST | Updated 11/07/2016 10:59 BST

It's a rare thing in your working life to find yourself handling history.

I suspect those working on the new Harper Lee novel To Set A Watchman feel that way right now. It's hard to imagine a more highly anticipated book launch.

And, here at the Official Charts, it has been a rather remarkable 12 months.

Just a year ago, audio streams were ushered into the Official Singles Chart for the first time. I know, it's just been 12 months. Crazy isn't it?

Then, in February, streams were reflected for the first time in the Official Albums Chart - reflecting the increased migration of music fans, from ownership of bodies of work, to listening to those bodies of work under a subscription service.

This past week has been a further step in the evolution of the Official Charts - last week, the much heralded Apple Music service contributed to the Official Charts. And Friday July 10 (remember the date) was the day the Official Charts announcement moved to a Friday after 27 years on a Sunday.

The Official Charts have always evolved, across the 60 years-plus of their existence, to adjust to differing times, from vinyl to cassette, to CD, to downloads, to streams. It is what we do.

Why has it moved? There is one main reason which has driven the change - the international music industry is co-ordinating its release days for the first time in history and settled on Friday as "New Music Friday" as it has been dubbed.

It makes total sense, if you consider the logic. In a digital world, artists with an international audience have the ability to communicate directly to their fans across the world, wherever they are, in the blink of an eye.

When Adele finally gets round to releasing her new album, she will be able to reach out to her 23million Twitter followers instantly and promote it directly to them. The same could be said of any number of artists with an audience which straddles international borders.

In the old era, tweeting to your fans that your new album is out was hampered by the simple fact that 'out' meant Friday in Australia and Germany, Monday in the UK, Tuesday in the US and so on. Moving to a synchronised release day means 'out' translates into Friday. Everywhere.

And if all the new releases are coming out on a Friday it is logical that the charts follow - so that every week's chart includes a full week's sales.

The opportunity for the Official Chart is huge. Friday afternoon is a strong time for drivetime listeners - add in the natural community of chart fans and you have a potentially powerful radio audience. Greg James is also a fantastic advocate for the charts too - a brilliant DJ, a self-confessed radio nerd who loves what the Official Chart is and what it represents.

Friday also feels like a natural home for the Official Chart, which represents a full-stop on the music community's week, a time for summing up everyone's weekly efforts in the world of music - and providing a starting point for every music fan's weekend. These, after all, are the nation's favourite tunes.

On top of that, for all the artists vying for supremacy in the Official Singles Chart and Official Albums Chart, Friday is the start of the weekend, the traditional weekly celebration with friends, fans and audiences. On a very basic level, there is much more chance of a Number 1 artist stepping on to a stage to celebrate their new Number 1 on a Friday evening than on a Sunday evening.

To maximise this, we have launched a new award to mark the moment - the new Official Number 1 Album Award, a gold-plated sister to the Official Number 1 Single Award. And Ed Sheeran was the first recipient.

There is bound to be some who will miss the Official Charts on a Sunday. It is, after all, a tradition, a habit maybe. And we all love a little nostalgia.

But the world changes - and the music world changes more than most.

Rest assured, as the world changes, the Official Charts will change with it.