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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 April, 2005, 23:56 GMT 00:56 UK
Did the downloads really matter?
By Stephen Dowling
BBC News

This week's UK singles chart is the first to include songs downloaded from the internet. But how different would the chart have been without them?

Damon Albarn's Gorillaz project were this week's big winners
With four weeks at number one already under his belt, veteran crooner Tony Christie has proved to be a big enough hit with download and CD single fans alike to make it five.

One of the revelations of this first combined chart is the effect it has had on the Top 10 - jockeying for positions rather than surprise new entries is the order of the day.

Christie's Amarillo is at number one with Razorlight's Somewhere Else at number two - exactly as they would have been in a no-download chart.

Elvis Presley's latest reissue The Wonder of You would have been at number three if downloads had not been counted.

But online sales helped Ciara featuring Missy Elliott's 1 2 Step leapfrog Elvis, pushing The King down to four.

Tony Christie
Tony Christie is a success online as well as in record shops
Rapper and actor Will Smith's Switch, at five, would have switched places with Mario J's Let Me Love You at six under the old system.

The number seven is the same under both systems - 50 Cent's Candy Shop.

At eight in the new chart, Mariah Carey's It's Like That would have traded places with Freeloaders' So Much Love to Give one place below based on shop sales alone.

And this week's number 10, Gwen Stefani with Rich Girl, would have dropped a place without downloads - but ended up pushing McFly's All About You out of the Top 10.

Top 40 places

The differences become more interesting further down the chart.

Garbage's Why Do You Love Me, at 16, was two places below it would have been before, with Sunset Strippers' Falling Stars' gaining three places to make it into the all-important top 20.

Power-pop band Phantom Planet's California was at number 20 - rather than 33 in a shop-only chart.

In total, 11 tracks in the Top 40 had higher placings than they would have done before.

The biggest jump involved Blur frontman Damon Albarn's side-project Gorillaz, who put out a 300-copy limited-edition picture disc of Feel Good Inc.

CD and Apple iTunes
The legal download market is growing rapidly
Had this been a normal week, Albarn and company would have been way down the chart at number 197.

But thanks to downloads, it ended up at number 22 - showing what a difference online sales can make.

And for Basement Jaxx at 27 and Stereophonics at 34, downloads were the difference between getting into the Top 40 and missing out.

Basement Jaxx profited by 18 places, while the Welsh rock band's song Dakota would have dropped out of the chart if it was not still an online favourite.

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) has said the vast majority of downloaders are men over 25 - a different audience to the teenage girls who buy pop singles.

Indie 'winners'

But although downloads now account for half of all singles sold, they do not yet have an equal impact on the chart as shop singles.

Last week, downloads accounted for just 15% of the total Top 40 sales because most downloads are old songs, not new singles.

Independent record companies had complained the new chart would put them at a disadvantage.

But on Sunday, the Official UK Charts Company said: "There are eight indie records in the Top 40 - one more than there would have been in the old-style chart."

The first week of the combined chart has seen evolution rather than revolution. But there may be bigger winners - and losers - in the months to come.


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