UK Chart Rules

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What is it about?

The official UK charts are compiled and overseen by "The Official UK Charts Company" (OCC) - a joint venture between the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) and BARD (British Association of Record Dealers). It was established by the music industry to regulate and control the Chart compilation process and to ensure that the Charts represent an accurate assessment of popularity. Official UK Charts is governed by the Charts Supervisory Committee comprising representatives from retailers, record companies and broadcasters. Sales data is supplied by over 5,600 retailers including all the major high street chains as well as 600 independent stores covering 99% of the singles market, 95% of albums and 80% of the video market.

"The Official UK Charts Company" used to be called "Chart Information Network" (CIN). The company was rebranded on 1st October 2001 to better reflect its core business and to be more consumer focused in preparation for the 50th Anniversary of the Official Singles Chart in November 2002.

A code of conduct - the 'Chart Rules' - exists to govern eligibility for all the Official Charts. The Rules are designed to "prevent unfair advantage" being gained by one single or album over another. The basic rules are concerned with format ie the number of tracks on a single or album, their playing time and packaging.

Any record company is free to release music in any format and at any length but formats that fail to meet the Official Chart rules are simply excluded from the Official Charts.

The Chart Rules are developed and monitored by the Chart Supervisory Committee consisting of representatives from the BPI and BARD.

Official contact for UK chart rules:
James Gillespie
T: 020 7436 3000

What are the rules for singles?

Besides other things like packaging and minimum dealer price, the rules sets a limit of how long a single has to be in maximum to be considered for the single charts.
This means:

  • 2004 -
    • Two new formats have been introduced:
    • The two-track CD single:
      • Two audio tracks only
      • No more than 10 minutes in total
      • Standardised singles jewel case packaging, no free gifts or extras, lower minimum dealer price
    • The "Maxi" CD/DVD:
      • Current maximum of three tracks will in addition be able to feature remixes of those tracks so long as they remain within the currently-acknowledged time limit of 20 minutes
      • Singles which solely feature a lead track plus multiple remixes of the same track will be able to run for up to 40 minutes
      • The current limit of one video will increase to two
      • Singles will, for the first time, be able to feature weblinks with an extension of the rule which currently allows them on albums
    • Labels wishing to release a single that complies with the new rules should be aware that sales of a maximum of one 2 Track CD, one "Maxi" CD and one "Maxi" DVD may be combined per release for Chart purposes.
    • OCC will be issuing a new set of Chart Rules shortly. These will run in parallel with the existing Chart Rules (effective 08.05.02) until December 29 2003 at which point the existing Chart Rules will cease to apply.
      This means that until December 29 2003, labels can elect singles releases to comply with either the existing Chart Rules (effective 08.05.02) or the new document (effective 20.10.03), but not a combination of both. Singles released from December 29 2003 must comply with the new rules.

  • ca 1998 - ca 2003
    • Maximum 20 minutes playing time for each single format
      (Since Spring 2001 multimedia content seems to count)
    • Maximum 3 different tracks for each single format
      (Since Spring 2001 it seems to be allowed to include more than 3 versions of the featured track)
    • Each format must contain a version of the featured song
    • A maximum of 3 different formats of each title are allowed
      A 'format' is for example 7", 10", 12", cassette, CD, Enhanced-CD. If there are different editions of one media like CD#1/CD#2 or 12"-Part1/Part2, each edition is counted as one format.
      So most dancefloor labels are relasing a 2-part 12" with usually 4 mixes and a CD single with 3 (mostly mutilated and shortened) mixes of a song including a radio edit.

  • - ca 1997
    • Before 1998 it was allowed to include up to 4 different songs (with "B-sides") up to 25 minutes, and to put a maximum of 40 minutes playing time on one format if it only contained remixes of the title track.
    • That's why for example THE ORB released a single "Blue Room" which was exactly 39:59 long, or that's why THE PET SHOP BOYS and many many other artists used to release two-part-CD-singles around this time, one with "B-sides" less than 20/25 minutes, and one with remixes up to 40 minutes.

What's the problem?

Especially in dancefloor music, a track has several mixes and remixes, and they're usually much longer than a standard three minute airplay version. I love good made long mixes, and if a song is great I want all mixes in their full length versions on CD.

Artists and record labels have to sell their releases to pay their expenses. One essential instrument to sell your relases are the charts. If a song finds its way into the charts, it gets radio airplay, more promotion, reaches a bigger audience and increases sales. I think so far it's OK, we all have to live and pay our bills.

The problem is that to fulfill the CIN rules the labels are editing all those great long dancefloor mixes, or don't put it on CD anyway. This really sucks, because when you buy UK CD singles these days you only get mutilated shortened mixes for your hard earned money, and this is crap.

I hope this will change with the new 2004 rules to get our value-for money CD dancefloor mixes back...

How about other countries, is this only in UK?

For a long time I thought this chart rule crap is unique in the world and only belongs to UK. But then I recognised that for example in Germany, there are also such rules, and they restricts for example the length of limited edition bonus-CD packed with an album-CD to 20 minutes. However we don't have rules restricting the lengths of singles, I think, at least sometimes you'll get 50+ minute Maxi-CDs entering the charts.
However, for 'convenience' sake (I guess, or maybe it's just lazyness) other european distributors (ie for Germany or Netherlands) are often using 1:1 the shortened mixes from the UK singles, even there are no such restrictions in their countries.

If you know about other restrictions like that, please let me know.



I take no responsibility that the informations provided here are correct and actual.

If you know more about this or have comments or suggestions, please let me know.

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$Revision: 1.6 $
Last Update: 2003/11/11 17:57:12
Stefan Sell (