Story by Klam Meraffe

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Garbage: worth targeted Downloading?
New chart rigging?
Combined singles chart manipulation

Several independent record labels may try to fix the new UK singles chart to prove that it is not secure, according to a UK label boss. This week has seen the launch of a 'combined' singles chart, where downloads as well as physical singles will count towards the Top 40.

However, Guy Holmes, chairman of Gut Records, which has previously had hits with Tom Jones and Space, said some labels could try to expose flaws with the new chart.

Speaking to the BBC, he stated: "It's not a slight problem - it's a huge problem."

According to Holmes, several unnamed labels are planning to download specific singles many times in an attempt to inflate their chart success.

He added: "I know of two different labels who are considering buying records online because they believe it's the only way they can teach the chart people that the security of the chart is no longer there."

"The people who have instigated the chart have failed dismally in their responsibilities to make and keep our charts secure and to stop people with large amounts of money being able to take advantage of it."

Holmes said it would take several thousand additional sales to push a song from number 20 into the Top 10 and onto ‘Top of the Pops’.

With songs costing about 79p-99p each online, that would be within the marketing budgets of some labels.

However, the Official UK Charts Company (OCC) has responded to Mr Holmes by saying it would monitor the chart "very, very carefully" for any discrepancies.

OCC product and new media co-coordinator James Gillespie commented: "It's very important that the chart isn't open to corruption, isn't open to being hyped. We're very confident that [the security system] is going to ensure that the singles chart remains the most accurate barometer of people's music tastes."

The first combined Top 40 will be revealed on 17 April.

In the first three months of this year over 4.5 million songs were downloaded on legal services - an equivalent of 45% of the total singles market.

Stereophonics had the biggest-selling download in that period with ‘Dakota’. Smells like rigging to us…

Klam Meraffe

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