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Tuesday, 1 May, 2001, 16:32 GMT 17:32 UK
MP3 downloads 'could rival singles chart'
Clickmusic
Clickmusic predicts 200,000 users within 12 months
A website claiming to have the only independent MP3 chart on the net says MP3 downloads will overtake single sales in less than two years.

Clickmusic.com says the number of people downloading the music tracks that make up its chart will grow bigger than the number of people buying singles in shops.

The site says its latest number one song was downloaded 14,000 times in one week in the UK - compared to about 50,000 singles needed for a single to reach number one in the mainstream chart.

But their figures have been questioned by industry figures.

Clickmusic's 2001 chart so far
1. Beck - Halo Of Gold (Epitonic)
2. ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead - Claire de Lune (trailofdead.com)
3. Bis - Beats At The Office (Vitaminic)
4. Grant Olding - Omaha (Popwire)
5. Tom Tom Club - Super Dreaming (iCast.com)
Clickmusic say that if downloads grow at the current rate, the number of downloads will outstrip single sales by the end of 2002.

Clickmusic's chart is compiled from downloads from many of the biggest legal MP3 sites on the web.

Unlike controversial song-swapping service Napster, all downloads are legal because all songs are submitted by the artists themselves or sites on which they appear.

It is seen as a good way for relatively unknown bands to get exposure - but it does feature songs by some more recognised artists including Eminem, Beck and The Offspring.

"If the chart continues to expand at this rate, within 12 months over 200,000 music fans will be involved, every week, with the number one getting played by over 100,000 people," says Clickmusic managing director Becky Lancashire.

Eminem
Eminem: Number one in Clickmusic 2000 chart
"I predict that by the end of 2002 we'll be looking at a credible competitor to the traditional singles charts."

Clickmusic's chart is compiled with statistics from sites including MP3.com, Peoplesound, Vitaminic and Epitonic.

But Clickmusic's statistics are questioned by the Chart Information Network (CIN), who say the average sales for a number one so far this year has been 150,000 - not the 50,000 Clickmusic claim they have to surpass.

Reluctant

And CIN's Phil Matcham says the fact Clickmusic's downloads are free may distort their figures.

"You can download something on your computer for free - but that's a bit different from going into your HMV and paying 2.99 or 3.99 for a single."

The music-buying public may also be reluctant to take to a chart that features fewer well-known bands than are available in record shops and that is susceptible to technical hitches.

Napster, which contained almost every piece of music by almost every popular performer, proved that websites can attract huge numbers - if the songs fans want are free and easy to get hold of.

It had 60 million users at its height, and in one month last year over 1.3 billion tracks were downloaded - but illegally, and a court has now forced the service to block access to copyrighted songs.

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See also:

01 May 01 | Sci/Tech
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MP3: A novice's guide
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