THE BLOG
12/10/2011 09:44 BST | Updated 12/12/2011 05:12 GMT

Why Noel Gallagher Shouldn't Look Back in Anger at his Lack of Chart Success

The former Oasis songsmith is currently launching his solo career. His first single in July, The Death Of You And Me, charted at 15 and was followed last month by AKA...What A Life, which reached 20. Next week they are both followed by his rather excellent debut album High Flying Birds.

Poor Noel Gallagher. It is a confusing time for the veteran singer-songwriter, who is struggling to understand how the world turns in the era of digital downloads.

The former Oasis songsmith is currently launching his solo career. His first single in July, The Death Of You And Me, charted at 15 and was followed last month by AKA...What A Life, which reached 20. Next week they are both followed by his rather excellent debut album High Flying Birds.

But, the older Gallagher bro is apparently a little bemused by his underperformance in the Official Singles Chart. Actually, he isn't bemused by the single's underperformance, but by the music industry's current release strategies.

In a style of rant which Gallagher has made his own, Noel tells NME.com: "If you headlined Top Of The Pops [in the past] you were number one and the world was alright and everyone knew their place. The charts are insane at the moment, the way people sell music is insane."

"...What A Life is out, but it's not actually out. You can buy it but you can't buy it. It's at Number 20 in the charts but it's not actually been released."

"I don't understand why. [Someone told me]: 'We release it two weeks after its been released now'. Well, who is 'we'? And why do 'we' do that? It doesn't make any sense to me."

What actually happened last month was his label released the single as a download, holding back the release of its physical formats until next week. This was presumably based on the logic that his fans might be going into stores to buy his album next week - and might also fancy picking up an extra CD or vinyl while they're in the mood. It's a perfectly logical (and smart) strategy, for an artist who is always going to struggle in the singles market these days.

Therein lies the rub for poor Noel. The days when he (or bands like Oasis) were likely to compete in the Official Singles Chart appear to be gone, for now. In 2011, the singles market is surging; by the end of this year, more than 170m singles (in the form of downloads) are likely to have been sold, compared to just 32m singles in the whole of 2004.

The permanent availability of downloads (purchasable from PC, Mac, iPhone, laptop, BlackBerry or tablet), combined with incredibly competitive prices (anything from 50p to 99p) and a wave of beats-driven tunes has seen the singles market overtaken by mainstream pop/dance pop these days. And, because of the growth of the market, you need to sell far more units to hit the upper reaches of the charts, compared to a few years ago.

When ...What A Life charted at 20, it sold 15,000 copies - to have made the Top 10, Noel would have had to sell an extra 14,000 copies. It was also a monster week for one new hit, What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction, which sold 10 times as many copies, a total of 150,000.

But Noel shouldn't look back in anger. Go back five or six years and those 15,000 sales would have helped him into the Top 10, such was the market level back then.

My instinct is that Noel will clean up next week. His audience is clearly a more physically aware one, which naturally puts him at a disadvantage in the Official Singles Chart - while weighting the scales in his favour in the albums market. Fans of Gallagher and Oasis will come out in their droves, I reckon.

Whether he makes the Official Number One spot is another question however. After being pipped by last year's X Factor finalists One Direction in the singles market, his debut album goes head to head with the debut album by 2010 X Factor champ Matt Cardle. And he has a hefty fanbase of his own.

It certainly looks set to be a battle royal.

Martin Talbot is the managing director of the Official Charts Company.