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Official music charts to include tracks downloaded for gaming

Move would increase interest from music labels to distribute through games, says charts boss

Sales of music downloaded for games such as Rock Band and Singstar will soon contribute to the weekly music chart - a move which could result in music labels scrambling to promote their artists through videogames.

The Official Charts Company has told that provided it can get up-and-running a system for publishers or platform holders to record the required sales data, game downloads could be contributing to the music charts within the next few months.

And once that happens, there will be increased interest from music labels keen to promote their artists through these games, according to Official Charts Company managing director, Martin Talbot, who says promoters will no longer worry they're losing out on chart positions by making music available through avenues that don't count towards official sales.

What always happens when it starts accepting different types of data into the chart, said Talbot, is that the activities of the labels changes.

"At the moment we're not including downloads from games, and as a result of that labels aren't promoting their releases through games in the way that they might if sales of these downloads contributed to the charts," pointed out Talbot. "They would rather sell a vanilla download through Amazon or 7digital and have it contribute to the charts.

"As soon as [game downloads] are incorporated, you'll start to see people become much more active in making those tracks available, I think."

Any concern that the inclusion of Guitar Hero or Rock Band downloads would unfairly skew the charts isn't one that Talbot thinks his company needs to worry about, since the charts are there to track sales of music in any form.

Even on iTunes you can buy karaoke tracks, said the MD. "The way that people go and consume and enjoy that music is not really our concern.

"If people went onto iTunes and bought a karaoke version of a Michael Jackson track because they wanted to celebrate on the day of his memorial, or whatever, that's absolutely fine and it will be reflected in the charts.

"Our concern is what is being bought on a weekly basis. We can never know the motives for people going out and buying music," added Talbot.

The only potential problem the chart compiler does anticipate is with labels releasing music specifically for use in games that isn't available elsewhere, then following it up with a big marketing push. Talbot said this could demand a change in approach down the line, but there's no indication it will happen in the near future.

It's simple logic for the chart company - "If that's the way people buy music, that's the way they buy music - that's all the charts are there to reflect," Talbot concluded.

Earlier this week, MTV announced the launch of a beta scheme that will allow any artist or label to make its music available for download and play on Rock Band, without dealing directly with Harmonix, a move that could prove even more successful should it coincide with this new plan.

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