James MastertonIf james masterton sends your mind into a tailspin, then look away now. Ever wondered as dedicated online fandoms are increasingly keen on doing exactly how many copies the latest work by your idol has been selling over the past day or so? Unless you had friends in the music industry with access to detailed sales flashes, it was impossible to know for sure. Only now it james masterton. And it is all thanks to flagging sales numbers which james masterton now exposed in a manner which surely nobody could ever have anticipated. Like so many apps focused on the display and james masterton of live and constantly changing data sources, iTunes is at heart an XML reader. The metadata for your entire musical database is contained in a single XML index file.
James Masterton - Wikipedia
If mathematics sends your mind into a tailspin, then look away now. Ever wondered as dedicated online fandoms are increasingly keen on doing exactly how many copies the latest work by your idol has been selling over the past day or so? Unless you had friends in the music industry with access to detailed sales flashes, it was impossible to know for sure. Only now it is. And it is all thanks to flagging sales numbers which are now exposed in a manner which surely nobody could ever have anticipated.
Like so many apps focused on the display and ordering of live and constantly changing data sources, iTunes is at heart an XML reader. The metadata for your entire musical database is contained in a single XML index file.
This, incidentally, is the reason iTunes struggles with music collections more substantial than a couple of thousand tracks. Even browsing the store part of the app works in the same manner. The client requests the live data from Apple; all delivered as an XML stream. Straightforward packet sniffing exposed just where the application was polling for its data.
However the process of understanding this was made far simpler in when Apple made all the relevant URLs public and essentially opened the door for third-party developers to construct interfaces to the iTunes store or incorporate it into their personal projects. The most interesting datasets are the ones iTunes uses to construct its internal charts.
The lists of the biggest selling tracks or applications or movies of any given moment. During the height of the digital download era, the live iTunes charts were an invaluable guide to taking out much of the guesswork as to how the singles chart would look at the end of the week.
Although the exact methodology used in its compilation has still never officially been confirmed, it has long been apparent that your position in the iTunes sales charts represented how many copies you had sold in the preceding 24 hours relative to everyone else.
The datasets never contain the exact sales figures, merely numbers that can be used to construct what iTunes calls the Popularity Bars, those curious blocks of lines which show you at a glance which tracks from an album or which episodes of a podcast are the most popular at that particular moment in time. The numbers are always expressed as a percentage of the most popular item in the category.
Thus the Number One track of the moment always has a popularity index of 1. Dedicated chart watchers have long made use of these numbers, thanks mainly to the work of the Dutchman known enigmatically as Kworb. There was no easy way of determining the actual numbers behind the data.
This was a neat bit of obfuscation which seemed to satisfy everyone. However since the rise of the streaming services and the corresponding collapse of the download market this obfuscation no longer works as planned. It is now possible to calculate precisely how many copies a single track has sold in the past 24 hours. All thanks to the minimal levels of sales taking place at the lower end of the market. Above is a screencap from Kworb, showing the state of the iTunes market on Saturday 10th March.
I first performed this exercise using data from a Wednesday, figures which were so low they were barely believable. Notice that the tracks at the base of the Top are covered by just a few tiers of percentage figures, with several tracks tied on the same numbers.
Indicating they have sold exactly the same number of copies as each other. The gap between each of these tiers is tier is also uniform — in this example roughly 0. The implication is clear. Every time those numbers change by such a small amount, this represents a difference in sales of a single copy.
Armed with that knowledge it is a simple bit of maths to work out just how many copies each track has sold based on its stated percentage points:.
So, say we want to calculate the sales achieved in the last 24 hours by the Number 94 single Top Off by DJ Khaled we simply have to calculate:.
We round up, of course, you cannot sell fractions of a copy after all. But yes, you read that correctly. The singles at the very bottom of the iTunes Top on Saturday were selling just 67 copies every 24 hours. Using this same formula we can work our way up the table to get some more meaningful numbers. For example, how many copies per day was the Number 40 single selling?
Just copies in a day to make the Top 40 of the live iTunes chart. So what about the Top 10? Last summer when asked I would suggest to people that about 5, copies a day were sufficient to make the iTunes Top Is that still the case right at this moment?
The Number 10 single on iTunes as of Saturday had sold only a shade over 1, copies in the preceding 24 hours. Has your online fandom propelled your latest release straight into the iTunes Top 10? If we take this to the very top of the market, the Number One single — well that is even easier to work out. At this point, you start to see how problematic it is becoming to continually look to purchased sales of music as an adequate barometer of the popularity of the pop record.
It is merely the barometer of its popularity amongst the diminishing number of people who consume music in this manner. As we now know, becoming the Number 15 best seller of the week means very little.
During her first week on sale, Kylie sold just 8, singles. Or to put it another way, only a shade over 1, copies a day spread across the week. Denials aside, there is without question no future in the market for purchased digital tracks, these unlikely to retain the kind of niche affection that physically pressed records and CDs still maintain.
The iTunes track download no longer has the status of a mass-market product which it once enjoyed. Everyone has moved on, and we now have the detailed numbers to prove it. The dawning of means it grows ever more likely that we will finally see a notable, if ultimately insignificant, UK singles chart first.
As the year wears on, anyone born in will reach adulthood, and even those born in the following two years are already in their late teens. If history has taught us anything this is the time when the most prodigious talents find their way into musical careers. And maybe end up at the very top of the charts. The watershed moment we are awaiting then: Following on from that it is a fun mental exercise to work out just who enjoyed the honour in decades gone by. A list which if nothing else stands you in good stead for pub quizzes should such a topic ever come up.
For these purposes we are talking singers, be they solo or frontsmen and women of groups. Because they are the ones everyone remembers after all. Born September 30, Topped the charts July Born April 16, Topped the charts December If, however, we are talking specific solo performers whose age can be accurately determined then the honour goes to:.
Born October 2, Topped the charts January Born March 14, Topped the charts June December saw me spend much of the month popping up as the invited expert in a variety of media, all of which helped nicely to expose both myself and the Chart Watch site which saw a welcome boost in visitors over the same period.
So where did I end up? First in the queue was the gloriously talented Laura Snapes who was writing a piece for The Guardian about the hottest lady of — Dua Lipa. Read the article and you will see quotes from me, noting, in particular, the extraordinary way in the spring that she landed herself quite by accident with three simultaneous Top 20 hits which instantly made her one of the biggest names of the moment.
This was one of those occasions when it only occurred to me after the fact to note one more pertinent point. If your first attempt fails, bin it and move on. Next, it was Christmas Number One season and things became a little frantic.
He quizzed me over the phone on the Monday morning about the Christmas Number One race which at that time was by no means the clear-cut race it turned out to be. So the resultant piece features me hedging my bets just a little but noting that Ed Sheeran has the nap hand with his multiple versions, plus the fact that he did the Strictly final that weekend and so was benefitting nicely from that exposure. In fact, your favourite Chart Watch writer ended up quoted in several BBC News articles that week, largely based on quotes I gave in that Monday morning interview.
However, it was to be Friday 22nd, the day that the Christmas chart itself was unveiled which would turn into my big day of media. It began with a tweet from a producer for the Drive show on 5 Live. Would I be interested in participating in a conversation about Christmas Number One hits generally later that day, and could I make it to a BBC studio somewhere? I told them I could attend at New Broadcasting House at their convenience and was duly booked in for a chat.
It was a fun minute segment featuring some other guests with their own unique perspective to add. Adobe Flash Player version 9 or above is required to play this audio clip.
And these things matter apparently. Shirt and tie duly knotted, I was off into town to turn myself into a global superstar. Because I am at home in a radio studio and was relaxed and happy and had already warmed up my opinions. It meant that being guided down to the green room by the enthusiastic intern who had become my personal runner for the evening and awaiting makeup was by no means as nerve-wracking as it might have been.
So it was, to the surprise of several relatives and one or two colleagues who happened to be tuned in at that time, I made my first live TV appearance in 18 years. And all three minutes of it is captured below.