UK album chart rules changed for Xmas

The Official Charts Company has relaxed its album chart rules, permitting labels to offer releases festooned with extra material in an attempt to boost sales in the format.

The changes, which have received approval from labels across the industry, both independent and major, will allow for a wider range of audio material and additional merchandise to be packaged within chart-qualifying special editions. The new rules, which follow several months of consultation across the business, will be introduced from Monday September 29.  

The changes cover the following areas:
– Deluxe Formats: The existing 80% cross-over rule (which means that a new/alternate version of an existing chart album must feature 80% crossover with the original
release for sales to combined into one chart position) will be replaced by a new set of rules. These will allow:

– a standard album plus a reissue to be eligible for one chart position, provided: 100% of the original album appears on subsequent reformatted versions and that the additional material has not been previously available to purchase in its   entirety as a separate product.

This means reissues will be able to include unlimited additional audio and/or audio visual material, either on the same disc, or on an additional disc, with the sales counting towards the same chart position in the Official Album Chart.

The 80% rule will only apply when new versions of an album exclude tracks from the original version; for instance, in the event of a 10-track original album, any reissue must include at least eight of the original tracks for the two releases to count towards the same chart position.

Labels will also be allowed to package additional merchandise with full price album packages to create new chart eligible packages, as long as these new premium packages fall under two new dealer price-based chart eligibility levels:

– A minimum PPD (Published Price to Dealer) of 20% above the PPD for the standard album format, for packages offering relatively minor items of related merchandise such as wristbands, badges, patches, keyrings, or similar items.  

– A similar minimum 20% PPD criteria will apply to physical albums which offer a parallel download of the same album, via an on-package code, or similar, with the uplift based on the PPD of the standard CD release.

– A minimum PPD of 80% above the PPD for the standard album format for packages offering more substantial related merchandise such as t-shirts, mugs or other promotional items.

In each case, the added value item must be packaged with the album, with each item  clearly branded in relation to the featured artist. In the case of non-artist-focused albums, this merchandise can extend to label-related merchandise or to related products.

An album packaged with related merchandise has to be treated as a separate product and carry a separate barcode from other versions of the album – although all sales will be combined for one chart position.

The changes are being introduced on an introductory basis for a period of six
months, starting September 29 2008, in order to allow for Q4 releases to benefit from the changes.

During the trial period, labels will be requested to contact the OCC in advance of release to ensure the eligibility of their formats. In conjunction with the Chart Supervisory Committee, OCC will review the progress of the trial period in early 2009.

Martin Talbot, managing director of the Official Charts Company, said: “These changes, which were driven by retailers’ demand, are designed to encourage greater experimentation in the packaging of albums through the creation of more enhanced value packages for consumers. We hope it will help
support sales in the run-up to Christmas.”

Kim Bayley, director general of the Entertainment Retailers Association, said: “Retailers have long known there is a substantial market of music fans who want more than the standard package. We welcome these rule changes which mean we can better meet their needs – and perhaps even tempt back people who have got out of the habit of buying music.”

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