Here is a short analysis which i did on the German music charts last month
The charts are surveyed by Media Control GfK International (86% market coverage). This is a private market intelligence company but this is in order to the contract of the Bundesverband der Phonographischen Wirtschaft (German IFPI). They have specific rules how to do that. This changed often in the last years.
The German charts do not really show the real music taste in Germany. Most of the people use illegal downloads streaming or YouTube videos etc. Especially the taste of the important young target groups and “digital natives” is not reflected any more.
Chart s are calculated by a mixture or traditional sales and downloads on a value bases (€).
1977 First “official” survey by German Music industry.
1997 completely electronic data aggregation (about 3000 cashpoints)
2001 Start of the online download charts
September 2004 Digital releases were counted in the Top 100
7/23/2007 also “Digital Only” releases are counted in the real charts. Before the download charts were totally separated. To get counted song must be registered at Media Control.
3. Current Situation
The technological innovation triggered that the German charts are currently a mixture between bricks & mortar and online downloads.
It is weighted after a difficult specific key which changes every week in a random selection of stores to be independent but where real CD sales are weighted higher than a download.
Today, the chart positioning is calculated by the revenue per song digital and traditional sales. Before the number of sold sound carriers were counted.
Indie labels criticized this kind of counting and Radar Music in Cologne thought about filing an action at the antitrust agency. MotionFX, another indie label, filled a lawsuit in the end.
The algorithm is such strange that e.g. the retailer media market is downgraded when there was e.g a discount and too much sales in a shop in one week.
Manipulations are registered by a statistical algorithm but could not be excluded. Manipulations in the online world are also easier due to the possibility of buying not in a local store but nationwide. Media Control claims that this not happened before
Media Control uses the 19 biggest online portals for their data collection. Media Control claims about 96% market coverage. This is more an illusion when streaming, YouTube, etc are excluded.
The download numbers are directly sent to Media Control. Traditional sound carrier sales are sent to a daughter company of the German IFPI and then forwarded to Media Control.
Technical formats which are counted
DVD, SACD, CD, MC, LP, MD, Downloads. Also music videos when the music takes more than 50% of the playtime
- Due to the inclusion of downloads the German CD single market is nearly dead.
- Last year the single downloads exceeded the single CD sales the first time.
- You need about 5000 CD sales to get a Top 10 chart position
- For a Top 100 position you need some hundred CDs in a bad week in Germany (Quote from Spiegel magazine from an interview with Manfred Gillig-Degrave, Editor in Chief of “musikwoche”)
- Albums with more than 3 bands are counted in the compilation list not in the album charts
- Only download, not streaming is counted (that means “Musicload nonstop” streaming flaterate is not counted, also no subscription service etc.)
- 100000 long player, downloads are included
- 150000 singles, downloads are included
- 200000 Long player
- 300000 Singles
4. Outlook and Analysis:
- When you also consider that 90% are downloading illegally, also streaming and foreign music portals like last.fm are not counted in Germany. This leads to the conclusion that the German charts are no more representative but a nice fake.
- There is only a correspondence between airplay charts and top 100 due to their influence against each other and bandwagon effects.
- Especially the youth in Germany is downloading illegally and the digital natives use already streaming services and so it means only 10% of the music audience which pays for music determine the charts. This people are often older than 20 years and already earn more than the average person between 12-30 years.
- Especially there must be in addition a counting of the top video pages like YouTube which are used by many people to listen to music due to their nearly complete music video catalog and market coverage.
- Due to the new inclusion of “digital only” version e.g. the announcement of the digital versions of all (old) Radiohead tracks could influence the Top 100 charts without one sold CD. Also the Beatles catalog could be in the Top 10 then.
- But in contrast, as an extreme example, the “pay as you want” Radiohead “In Rainbows” idea is not counted in the German charts – no German website, only the top 19 download portals are included. Download nearly for free has no real value to a weight on revenue, although many people listen to it.
- Statistic algorithms always have pain points but due to the disruption of the music market there is no reality in the charts any more.
- Charts are determined by things like “Deutschland sucht den Superstar” (German Version of X-Factor) were a convergence between TV and CD sales could be seen.
- In the future also e.g. the top 10 streaming services like last.fm or Pandora must be counted. Otherwise we get to a iTunes and TV casting music charts. This is going to reflect more where the money for the industry is coming from and not which musician is really loved by the audience.