Wanna get into the Gospel charts? Here’s how by Juliet Fletcher

The launch of the first-ever UK Christian & Gospel Chart gives UK gospel artists the chance to get their music more widely recognised. Juliet Fletcher shares how.

We’re all excited about the first-ever Official UK Christian & Gospel Chart! It’s a fantastic platform, which shows everyone how much we all love this music, and which specific albums we enjoy most. It is the most important industry development to impact our scene in the last 20 years!

The Charts seem to work very simply: we hear, we buy, and the sales results show in the Charts in an orderly listing. The UK Official Christian & Gospel Album Chart displays the Top 20, with the Number 1 reflecting the best in that week.

However, behind the scenes, artists have to register their album in a specific way to be in with an opportunity for their sales to be reflected in the Chart listings. It has become very evident that most of the independent artists in UK Gospel don’t know what they are meant to do to make that happen.

We’ve got to wake up if we’re serious about our music being of greater influence in the national/international marketplace. The Charts makes this so much easier.

Music industry expert, Linton Beckles, is also my fellow Executive at the GMIA – Gospel Music Industry Alliance. On the GMIA website is an excellent video by Linton about the Charts. I’ve taken the privilege of using some of the details for this column.

First, a reminder of who manages the Charts: the Official Charts Company (OCC) compiles various “official” UK record charts, including the UK Singles Chart, the UK Albums Chart and the UK Official Download Chart.

The OCC produces its charts by gathering and combining sales data from retailers, through market researchers Millward Brown. OCC claims to cover 99% of the singles market and 95% of the album market, and aims to collect data from any retailer who sells more than 100 chart items per week.

This first Official UK Christian & Gospel Chart only lists albums, but there are future plans for others.

If you are a Christian artist, ready to release material, and would like your material to have a chance of getting into the charts, there are three steps you must take before your Chart quest begins:

1. Your Product must be completed. Recorded, mastered and packaged. You must have cleared usage for all legal and contractual affairs with your record label, producer and publisher, if you have one. Of course, if it’s your own label and you’re self-published, you simply assign it to your label with all the revelant ‘works’ and ‘copyright’ details.

2. Your Rights are upheld through registration of your works (tracks). PRS/MCPS and PPL/VPL look after Statutory Music Rights, and collect and distribute ‘performance’ and ‘mechanical’ royalties on behalf of songwriters, publishers, artists and record labels.

3. Your Marketing Plan must be ready to implement BEFOREHAND. It is critical that you make it clear where your physical and digital music can be found and purchased. The details of Chart-returning retailers are not published by OCC, so it is advised that you seek to retail your releases through as wide a variety of retailers as possible.

4. Sign up for Online Digital Distribution with iTunes, Amazon and Spotify, among others, that are known to be included in the Official Charts Company (OCC) for the measurement of sales.

The next step is to follow all the Official Chart rules, which apply to physical and digital formats. This includes the following steps:

1. Obtain a catalogue number and barcode from GS1 (www.gs1uk.org) for each of your physical formats. GS1 is a globally-recognised supplier of barcodes to industry standard. A barcode represents numbers or letters in a machine readable format that can be decoded, recorded and processed by a computer system when read by a barcode scanner. The data in the barcode can automatically identify physical items like your CD.

2. Obtain an ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) for each of your individual digital tracks, and a digital barcode for each of your digital formats. International Standard Recording Codes (ISRCs) are an internationally recognised system to identify recorded music tracks and music videos. These can be obtained when you sign up to rights body PPL. By adding an ISRC to each recorded music track or music video you register in the PPL Repertoire Database, you are ensuring that you will receive more accurate payments.

3. Register your physical release formats by submitting the details of your releases in the “Release File” to Millward Brown by emailing charts@millwardbrown.com. Millward Brown will need the following details: catalogue number, barcode, artist, title, record company hierarchy, published dealer price and release date, as well as details of each track of the release, including ISRCs.

To register digital formats, you will need access to an online application called Tornado. Again, email charts@millwardbrown.com to request a Tornado account.

For more details, contact info@gmia.org.uk or call 020 3086 8348 between 10am – 4pm Monday to Friday.
Once registered, remember that creative ways of communicating YOU reinforces the potential of your appearance in the Official Charts which, in turn, becomes ‘the icing on the cake’ of your ongoing success.

Juliet Fletcher is Director of Greentree, a specialist music consultancy and production company. Juliet Fletcher is a former BBC Producer and founding Executive of the GMIA. Visit www.gmia.org.uk for more details, or phone 020 3086 8348.

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