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How Are The Music Charts Calculated?

How Are The Music Charts Calculated?
June 18, 2024
Breaking into the charts is a sure-fire way to help your music career's momentum and reach new listeners through press and radio airplay.

But how are the world’s biggest music charts calculated, and how many sales or streams do you need to stand a chance of climbing into the Official UK, Billboard and ARIA charts?

Before your music can enter the charts, you'll need official chart registration. You can register tracks for chart eligibility around the world when you release music through Ditto Music. Get started here.

How do the official music charts work?

Figuring out exactly how the world's official music charts are determined can be a complicated business, often with many different factors at play, including downloads, streaming, radio airplay and physical sales. To make things simpler, here's a quick overview of how the music charts are calculated around the world.

How Are The Music Charts Calculated? - Woman listening to music

How Are The Music Charts Calculated? - Official Charts

How are the Official UK Charts calculated?

The Official UK Chart is calculated by sales as well as both music and video streams, with a variable streaming ratio depending on whether the user has a free or paid subscription. This means that 100 paid streams will equal one sale, as will 600 free streams.

For example, if your track gets 100,000 paid streams across the various online music & video platforms like Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music and other, they will be counted as 1,000 sales by the charts and included in your final sales total, whereas you'd need 600,000 free streams to generate that same number. Other sales include both paid digital downloads and physical releases.

There are a few rules which are in place to promote new tracks and artists entering the charts. The Top 40 restricts lead artists from having over 3 tracks within the charts at any one time - think about when huge artists like Stormzy and Drake release albums and they have multiple tracks chart at the same time.

Another rule comes into play if a song has a drop in streams for three weeks in a row. If this happens, The Official Charts apply a stream-to-sale ratio of 200:1. 

If a song's streams drop more than the average drop for all singles, its streaming sales are counted at an Accelerated Chart Ratio (ACR). Basically this means listeners paying for Spotify and Apple Music etc. need to stream a song 200 times for it to count as one sale, and those listening on free accounts need to stream it 1,200 times. 

The idea behind this process is to give newer songs a better chance to climb the charts and to keep older, consistently streamed songs from staying in the Top 40 forever.

How many sales do I need to get into the Official UK charts?

In recent years, the average UK Top 40 single will have made at least 8,000 sales, while the number one track will have sold around 100,000 copies. The figures for the Official UK album chart are similar, with the average top 40 album selling over 4,000, and the number one typically achieving sales of around 60,000.

How Are The Music Charts Calculated? - Billboard

How are the Billboard Charts calculated?

The Billboard charts are calculated by several different factors, depending on the specific chart. For example, the Billboard Hot 100 and other genre-based charts take sales, streaming and radio airplay into account.

High-ranking tracks and albums can be driven by one or all of these different avenues, with some of the biggest songs charting thanks to extensive radio airplay, while others climb the charts through their streaming power.

How many sales do I need to get into the Billboard charts?

Billboard manages a wide range of charts based on a number of factors, including physical sales, digital downloads, radio airplay and streaming. As such, it is difficult to precisely estimate the number of “sales” you’ll need to break into any of Billboard charts. However, here you can find a detailed overview of how Billboard decide their rankings.

How Are The Music Charts Calculated? - Aria Charts

How are Australia’s ARIA Charts calculated?

The ARIA Charts in Australia consider streaming as well as physical and digital download sales, but have not disclosed the ratio to which streaming counts towards an artist’s sales total and chart position.

ARIA also state on their website that multiple sales by a single consumer may not be included in the sales total, and that it only accepts digital and streaming sales from certain retailers, including the biggest online major music stores. Here you can see the full list of accepted retailers.

How many sales do I need to get into the ARIA charts?

While there isn’t a specific number of sales needed to break into the ARIA charts, it is known for being relatively easy to climb the rankings without thousands upon thousands of sales. The ARIA Charts recently laid claim to the lowest selling album ever to reach the number one spot in Australia, after selling as few as 2,140 copies. So logically, just a few hundred sales will give you a decent chance of being featured in the Australian charts.

Remember, these charts are not the be all and end all of the music biz. The are plenty of online charts and playlists across iTunes and Spotify that can help to give your track a boost. The key is to build up a following and promote your music as much as possible through press, social media and live gigs. Good luck!

How Are The Music Charts Calculated?

Music Promo
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