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New rules transform Official Singles Chart
Just days after X-Factor winner Leona Lewis’s A Moment Like This became the fastest ever selling download in the UK, the Official UK Charts entered a new era on January 1 with new rules expected to further drive interest in the singles market.

Downloads have already helped double the size of the UK singles market in just three years from 32.3m units in 2004 to 65.1m in the first 51 weeks of 2006.



In this dramatic rule change, album tracks and golden oldies, as well as current hits will be eligible for the singles chart if they are available as downloads.



At the same time, a relaxation of rules on CD singles is expected to herald the return of the EP, with so-called maxi-singles now allowed to contain up to four tracks lasting up to 25 minutes (compared with three tracks and 20 minutes under current rules).



The most dramatic change to the charts, which took place on January 1, is the lifting of transitional rules which have meant that downloads have only been included in the Official Singles Chart if a physical format of the song has also been made available.



Since January 1 there has no longer been any requirement for record labels to make singles available physically.



This means that any currently available download will technically be eligible for the Official Singles Chart.



Official UK Charts Company (OCC) director Steve Redmond said, "January 1 2007 marked a dramatic development in the history of the Official UK Charts. For the past 54 years a single was a track selected by a record company to be pressed on plastic and distributed to stores on a particular date. From now on a single can be any track currently available as a download - even an album track or a golden oldie - as well of course as the established physical formats of CD, DVD, seven and 12 inch vinyl".



"This new ruling changes the nature of a single and puts the consumer in the driving seat. Literally any track can be a hit - as long as it sells enough."



This theory was proven on Sunday 21st January when Billie Pipers 1999 hit Honey to the Bee entered the UK chart at number 17. The downloading of this track was encouraged by Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles, and just goes to show that under these new rules, anything is possible.





Published: 23 January 2007
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