Official Charts Company To Begin Official Record Store Chart

We caught up with Martin Talbot, MD of the Official Charts Company to find out the background of the Official Record Store Chart.

The Official Charts Company has announced the launch of the brand new Official Record Store Chart.

In association with this year’s Record Store Day, the chart will reflect sales of albums from almost 100 independent record retailers right across the country, who participate in Record Store Day UK, such as Rough Trade, Eastern Bloc, Rounder Records, Rise, Jumbo, Sound It Out and Avalanche.

The first chart looks will be revealed this Friday (20th April) on both www.officialcharts.com and counted down on Steve Lamacq’s BBC 6Music show between 5 and 6pm, and will continue to be announced weekly for the next year.

It also happens to be the 60th anniversary of the Official Singles Chart too, so it’s a special time all around.

We caught up with Martin Talbot, MD of the Official Charts Company to find out exactly what went into creating this brand new chart.

How did the idea to introduce the Official Record Store Chart come about?
We love the concept of Record Store Day – it is very close to our hearts. The UK’s Official Charts are also the most supportive of independent retail of any territory in the world - many charts in other countries don’t even count sales from independent record shops. We spend time and effort to collect this information because we believe independent record shops are a critical part of the musical eco-system in the UK. Putting both of these things together, it made sense to use the unique flavour of our chart compilation methods to help support Record Store Day and independent record shops.

Why do you think it’s so important to support Record Store Day, and record buying in general?
As I said before really – independent record shops are SO important in helping spread the word about alternative music, in particular. Specialist music retailers are vital in helping support new and developing musical talent, often providing musicians with some of their earliest direct contacts with music fans – and helping music lovers discover new sounds, genres, artists and records. As a teenager, I both worked part-time in my local independent record shop and frequented it (and others) as a punter too. They got to know my tastes and I got to understand them, so that they were perfectly placed to recommend music I might like and I grew to trust their tastes. That is part of the unique offer presented by record shops.

With the launch of the chart on Record Store Day, what sort of activity do you expect to follow afterwards? Is it a concern that RSD marks the height of record buying?
The aim of the Official Record Store Chart is to help spread the Record Store Day word throughout the year – a record shop is for life, not just Record Store Day, after all… And, you’re right, it is important that fans don’t just use Record Store Day as the one day a year that they go into their local shop. We need to encourage them to visit all year round – that’s how they will discover new music, more regularly, 52 weeks a year. We will be publishing the chart every Sunday at 7pm, it will appear on our website, OfficialCharts.com, and on the Record Store Day website and Facebook page, we are also trying to secure broadcast, online and print media partners to maintain the focus on it.  

How do you think the chart will affect record sales? Do you anticipate that the chart will encourage sales of records at all?
The aim of all charts is to help spread the word about music and, ultimately, sell more records. And the Official Record Store Chart is no different. The kinds of artists who can particularly benefit from a chart like this are those who are appealing to those people who already buy music in independent record shops, but who are not yet mainstream in their profile – like The Shins, Alabama Shakes, Jim Lockey and Black Keys. Overall, independent record shops sell around 4.5 million albums every year, including around 95% of all of the vinyl sold through bricks and mortar shops every year. If we can help boost that over the next year, that would be great.

What made you want to team up with Steve Lamacq’s 6Music show to announce the chart?
Steve is a long-standing supporter of new, developing acts – and a big fan and supporter of Record Store Day and independent record shops in particular. And he was very enthusiastic about the chart concept. He was the natural champion for it.

There are constantly arguments surrounding the art of digital vs physical. How do you personally feel about the two formats?
I see the benefits of both. There is nothing nicer than the smell and feel of a nice chunky vinyl – but I can also carry thousands of my favourite music around with me in a matchbox-sized music player, what’s not to like about that? I tend to buy both in equal numbers, to be honest – plus use a streaming service for additional sampling.

How does it feel to be reaching the 60th anniversary of the Official Singles Chart?
It is a bit of honour for all of us at the Official Charts Company to be working on a piece of history like this, to be honest. The Official Singles Chart has chronicled my own personal music journey over the past forty-something years – and it is the same of everyone else in the population. However big or small a fan of music you may be, the Official Singles Chart has touched everyone’s lives. The anniversary week is in about seven months time (November 11-18, to be precise) and we have loads of exciting projects up our sleeves, including radio, TV, books, CDs, etc etc.
In effect, the story of the Official Singles Chart is the story of Great Britain’s popular music taste since the eve of rock & roll; the Official Singles Chart has chronicled our music tastes since before Elvis right through to the present day. Anniversaries like these don’t come along very often, so we are determined to give the Official Singles Chart its due and mark the old girl’s anniversary in a totally appropriate manner.