B) Inconsistent methodologies
Although sticking with invalid data is already annoying, the fact that one sale is one sale restricted the impact of that behavior. The arrival of streaming was adopted by chart owners with various formulas. This is all good. Good until you start changing methods in a highly obscure way.
How much has One Dance by Drake sold in the UK ? Answer – we don’t know. We don’t know its download sales nor its streams to date. How come? In the middle of the road, the OCC changed its ratio between streams and downloads from 150:1 to 100:1. Thus, if you add weekly sales of One Dance since its release, you will have a figure that means nothing as the same action is weighted differently from one week to another. If you go by the BPI figure, as they are still using the former 150:1 ratio, the total will be different. Then, if tomorrow the OCC reveals both source indicators – download sales and streams – and apply the current ratio, you will get a third “total to date” value.
The OCC has done nothing to avoid that mess, mixing together figures strongly different in both their nature and their methods to define their all-time best sellers list. By 2020, it will be impossible to determine the meaning of each figure they come out with.
Don’t get me wrong, adjusting formulas is absolutely mandatory in a Streaming World. Chartmasters.org will be doing just that in the next few days once the IFPI Global Music Report of 2017 comes out. The key is to apply the same methodology for all records from all eras, rather than adding each week new figures based on distinct methods.