Changes are afoot in The Official New Zealand Music Chart – from next week (29 May), The Charts will represent the full spectrum of New Zealand music sales, including digital downloads from New Zealand’s legal, digital music retailers.
Until now, The Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) has compiled The Charts each week from on the basis of physical music sales and radio play.
Next week’s Chart will be the first to reflect legal digital music downloads with digital sales being counted from Monday May 21. RIANZ says that now the market has established a strong digital sales base the changes are necessary to ensure The Chart continues to reflect how New Zealanders are buying their music.
From next week The Chart is also publishing the Top 10 Radio Airplay Chart to highlight the most popular songs on New Zealand radio stations.
RIANZ President Adam Holt says he expects the addition of digital sales to have an impact on The Chart, especially on the Top 40 Singles Chart.
“We believe the introduction of digital sales will make the chart more dynamic,” Mr Holt says. “The singles chart will experience more change than the albums chart simply because of the sharp increase in the sales of digital tracks and singles over the past 12 months. Changes in the album chart will be less obvious as the physical album is the dominant format in New Zealand.”
He says with the early emergence of Amplifier and digiRAMA, the strong music presence on the Telecom and Vodafone mobile platforms and the recent launch of iTunes’ New Zealand store, legal digital downloading is now well established in New Zealand.
“Today music is available to New Zealander’s in many forms and The Chart now reflects that. It’s definitely an exciting development and reflects the fact that legal, digital music has finally come of age in New Zealand. Combining digital sales with the strength of sales from our physical retailers will ensure that the chart is robust and in turn it will provide a strong focus for our entire industry.”
NOTE: The Top 40 Singles Chart incorporates radio airplay data and sales while the Album, Compilation and DVD charts are compiled from sales only.
Q&As about the digital chart
Why has RIANZ included digital sales on the Chart? Digital downloads have come of age in New Zealand. The early emergence of Amplifier and digiRAMA, the strong presence of music on Telecom and Vodafone’s mobile platforms and the November launch of iTunes means digital downloading is now well established in New Zealand. Music is not limited to physical formats any more and the chart now reflects that.
What impact does RIANZ think the digital sales will have on the Chart? The new chart offers a much broader representation of what music is selling in New Zealand. Digital sales will make the chart more dynamic. It is likely the singles chart will see more change than the album chart, as the majority of people are still buying albums in physical formats, while singles buyers are showing an increased appetite for digital tracks and singles.
Where are the digital sales data coming from? From retailers of digital music, such as digiRAMA, Vodafone, Telecom, Textunes, Amplifier, RipIt and iTunes.
Why is the Heatseekers chart being replaced? The Heatseekers chart is being replaced by the Top 10 Airplay songs. We felt the Heatseekers chart meant little to the average New Zealander whereas the most popular songs on New Zealand radio would be of more interest to them. The arrival of digital sales onto the singles chart means that radio airplay data will have a reduced influence on the singles chart than it did under the old chart rules and as radio plays such an important part in many people’s daily lives and we feel that highlighting the top airplay songs rebalances that.
With digital sales now included does that mean independent and unsigned bands are more likely to make it into the charts? Possibly. Independent and unsigned bands have always been eligible for the chart, but for some artists digital channels can sometimes provide an easier path to market. If they sell enough copies digitally they will make it into the charts
How does the new way of collating the chart work? In much the same way as before. The retailers send sales information to the independent complier Radioscope and the chart is produced from the figures.
Why has it taken so long to include digital sales in the New Zealand chart? With the arrival of iTunes in November, New Zealand had the broad digital base RIANZ needed from which to survey sales data. The delay has been beneficial in some ways as we have learned from the Australian and UK chart experiences and been able to use their best practice in developing the rules for New Zealand
What happens to album track sales - are they counted as singles or part of an album? They are counted as singles. If someone buys five tracks from an album the sales all count towards the singles chart.
How are the digital sales collated? The online retailers track the number of sales, these are sent to the independent complier, and the chart produced.
What sort of security is in place to ensure there is no fudging or embellishing of the figures? RIANZ has strong auditing processes and rules for participating in the chart. We are confident the chart can’t be ‘fudged’. Strict rules and sanctions apply against any individual, record company or music retailer doing so.
Exactly when did the first digital sale take place that has been part of the chart? Monday May 21 2007.
How many singles / albums are downloaded each week? Currently, more than 40,000 tracks are downloaded each week, while digital album sales are still in their infancy.
Can "offshore" sales influence the chart. e.g. if a kiwi or anyone else in the UK downloads? The chart only incorporates sales data from New Zealand digital retailers. Generally a customer needs a New Zealand credit card or a New Zealand mobile phone to access New Zealand stores so it’s unlikely that there will be enough sales generated this way to have any affect on the chart.
Why don't you have separate charts for physical sales and digital sales? Because we believe sales are sales. The format is irrelevant. We simply want to reflect what the most popular tracks are.
What happens if a song does not have any physical sales, can it still appear in the chart if it sells only online? It can yes. However, under the new rules, a song cannot go into The Top 40 Singles Chart on radio airplay alone – it must be available for the consumer to buy.