Why Doesn’t The Chart Show Adopt An Opening Weekend Model?

This week came news that with the change in release dates of music – shifting from Mondays to Fridays on a global basis – the Radio 1 Official Chart Show will likewise shift. So that instead of going out at the end of the previous week (i.e. the previous Sunday to Saturday) it will air on Friday evenings and represent sales/streams from the previous seven days (i.e. the previous Friday to Thursday).

While this sort of makes sense, I think I’d have shaken up how UK charts are compiled.

The reason for the move to Fridays is apparently because so much more music is sold at weekends, and they can sync worldwide releases together on that day. I must admit that I used to enjoy a Monday lunchtime mooch around HMV – while there still were a reasonable number of HMVs – but I understand that Friday makes sense in an online world. Video games have been released on Fridays for years for the same reason.

But it’s all about immediacy these days, and I’d look to how cinema works. Instead of getting a full week of box offices, we actually get the opening weekend the following Monday/Tuesday. Yes, some distributors mess around by having “previews” the weekend before, or releasing a film on Wednesday to give them 5 rather than 3 days opening. But effectively we’re looking at three day totals when we see cinema top tens. Those who go to the cinema on Monday-Thursdays get added into the following week’s release.

So I’d do the same with the charts. I’d shift to an “opening weekend” model. You’d still get a Sunday teatime chart show, with the advantage that you could highlight the big new releases from Friday and see where they’ve got to while they’re completely fresh. Sales data can be generated pretty instantly these days, so the chart could be compiled at the last minute, giving two and a half days of data. And Sundays are just better for listening than Friday early evenings when there are more distractions.

Then in place of the current Wednesday “Chart Update”, I’d run something that would have a better name than “the consolidated chart” which actually had a full week’s worth of data. Ideally it’d run Thursday evening, but Friday lunchtime/afternoon would be fine too.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the commercial Big Top 40. I reckon they’ll go alone and stick with the Sunday show and do a three day model. That way, they can get in first with big new singles going to number one five days before they do the same on Radio 1. That’s got to give them a massive competitive advantage, even though I realise chart shows aren’t what they once were.

I’m old enough to be the sort of person who compiled my own “Now”-style cassette compilations – sitting there with my JVC radio cassette player, finger hovering over the Pause button to remove as much of Richard Skinner or Bruno Brookes as possible, then realising I didn’t want that song and carefully re-spooling the cassette with a pencil to get to the precise point for the next single. The chart show was also basically the background to my weekend homework – it was Sunday early evening and obviously I still hadn’t done it!.The next generation needs a chart to do its homework to!

[Updated to correct chart collection days. Cheers Sam]