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Music

Kate Bush set for number one after chart rule change

The recent surge in sales of Kate Bush’s 1985 hit ‘Running Up That Hill’ is looking increasingly likely to send the song to number one later this week. The track is already sitting at number two, a stellar return credited to its use in the new series of the hit Netflix show Stranger Things

The likelihood of the song making the top spot has now increased after the Charts have enacted a rule that blocks old songs from being penalised if their streams surge. ‘Running Up That Hill‘ is currently the UK’s most-streamed track, averaging 700,000 plays per day on Spotify. 

In weeks gone by, the streams would have counted as 3,500 “sales”, but this week it will double to 7,000. This is because of an obscure rule that dictates how the charts are calculated in the age of streaming. 

The charts used to be comprised only of songs that were bought in a record shop, with every sale equal, and if a label hadn’t pressed enough units of a vinyl or CD, it risked missing reaching the chart. Famously, some labels even stopped pressing 7-inch singles in a bid to persuade customers to purchase the album instead.

However, in the age of streaming, because every song is available anywhere at any time, this has changed the way the charts are configured. In order to give all artists a chance, the industry created “accelerated decline”. 

This means that a new record earns one “sale” when it is streamed 100 times on subscription services such as Spotify or Apple music or 600 times on an ad-funded service. However, the metric for older songs is different. They need to secure 200 premium and 1,200 ad-funded streams to be counted as a “sale”.

This created the situation last week where ‘Running Up That Hill’ was beaten to number one by Harry Styles’ ‘As It Was’, even though Bush’s track had more streams, as Styles had a better streams-to-sales ratio. This week, it has all changed, though. 

The top 40’s organisers, The Chart Supervisory Committee, have revoked “accelerated decline” for ‘Running Up That Hill’, meaning that its streams are now worth the same as all contemporary singles, including ‘As It Was’. Per chart rules, “standard” streaming ratios can be applied to a single if its sales increase 25% each week. 

Interestingly, record labels are permitted to request a “manual reset” to the ratio “in exceptional circumstances, where a track is being scheduled for promotion”, and this is what EMI did last weekend for ‘Running Up That Hill‘. 

It seems to have worked, and by Monday, the track was 5,000 sales ahead of Styles’, and by all accounts, her lead looks like a strong one, and is unlikely to be surpassed.

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