Running Cold Water
Earlier this summer, during what revisionist history I guess would now see as the dark ages of Drake's lengthy unbroken run at the top of the Official UK Singles chart, more than one person noted to me that the single was benefiting from what they called a 'positive feedback loop'. This pertained to its apparently unassailable lead at the top of the streaming tables, based on the fact the more people listened to it, the more likely it was to remain on high profile shared playlists and the more playlists it was on the more people were going to listen to it. Ad infinitum it appeared. Contrast that with sales which have their own negative feedback loop in that the more copies a single sells, the less it is likely to sell eventually as enough people already own a copy.
I bring this up simply because the second half of the summer could well turn into a mirror of the first. Cold Water by Major Lazer (ably assisted by Justin Bieber and MØ) has now settled comfortably into a satisfactory run at the top of the UK charts, this being its fourth week in total on top.
Its sales this week total around 82,000 of which a mere 26,000 are accounted for by actual purchases. It doesn't take a maths genius to note that we are now at the point where streaming points for the Number Onr single account for more than twice the number of paid for sales. Toto we're not in Kansas any more.
In second place for the second week running is DJ Snake's Let Me Love You which allows the Bieber entity to spend a second week locking down the top two places on the singles chart albeit as a guest artist. Once again Let Me Love You sells at retail more than the single one place above it on the charts
Chain Means More Than One
As expected the one and only arrival in the Top 10 this week is Closer from Chainsmokers which keeps to Number 4 and in the process neatly leapfrogs their existing his Don't Let Me Down which slides to Number 6. We are spared the sight of three different acts all enjoying two simultaneous Top 10 hits thanks to the exit after a 16 week run of Calvin Harris and Rosanna and This Is What You Came For leaving the Drake single Too Good as Rihanna's only entry in the upper reaches. And even that is finally running out of steam at Number 10.
Olly Olly Olly Oy Oy Oy
He may not look like it but Olly Murs is one of the most important acts in Britain at the moment. Six years into his chart career he's still a banker bet, the man around whom you can plot a balance sheet. The former X Factor star is scandal free, a comfortable promoter, a born performer and a man who will cheerfully lap up whatever middle of the road pop material he has been handed that week. Right from the very start it was clear he was the kind of act Simon Cowell and partners had been dreaming of unearthing during the course of their talent trawls. The family friendly lovable pop star whose music you could rely on to sell just when it mattered most. For that reason then he's far too important to fail.
Yet fail is what he is in severe risk of doing, falling victim to what you have to term the streaming gap. Olly you see is a legacy of the start of the decade, a hero from the age when everyone filled their portable device with the songs they bought. All of a sudden along has come a new generation of music consumers who don't buy, they just listen. And whilst they are doing so in ever increasing numbers they have their own new breed of heroes to follow. Olly Murs isn't necessarily one of them.
Hence you guess some consternation in certain quarters when Murs' latest single You Don't Know Love sputtered into life five weeks ago. Entering the charts at Number 23, the single has failed to impress since, moving 23-34-30-32-35 when it could be found last week. I've noted all along that this is by no means a disaster just yet. We as chart watchers need to catch up with the music business and move away from the Week 1 mindset. What you do in your opening show is no longer relevant. It is Week 5 or even Week 6 which truly counts (just ask Twenty One Pilots). Well here we are in Week 6 for You Don't Know Love and it was clear that action needed to be taken to turn it into a respectable Olly Murs hit rather than a miserable one. So last week the single was heavily discounted online, adding to the boost it has already enjoyed thanks to Radio One finally being persuaded to boost it up the playlist. Significant that as he is by no means a core artist for the network any more.
The result? A 35-19 jump to give NiceBloke the highest chart position of his current single's chart life so far. He's not over yet it seems.
Does Anyone Buy Albums Any More
Unequivocally not if this week is anything to go by. The Number One album this week is notable for two particular reasons. The first is that it is the same as last week, the eponymous debut from Blossoms retaining it's chart crown and in the process becoming the first album since March to spend two consecutive weeks at the top. But the truly extraordinary bit are the sales. Or lack of them. Blossoms last week shifted a mere 7,948 copies. No typo, that really is less than 8,000 souls purchasing the biggest long player of the week. That's the lowest sale for a Number One album since accurate records began to be tallied (and are thus reliably checked against the chart database) back in 1994. Various excuses have been trotted out for this, the weather, the state of the economy and even the Olympics but the truth is hard to avoid. The new stream era has given new life to single tracks (even if that slows the chart to a crawl) but it is causing the slow death of the album as a creative work.
Mind you, that's apart from compilations. I'll leave you to note that the true biggest selling album this week is Now That's What I Call Music! 94 with a sale of 48,000 copies. Or six lots of Blossoms if you will.