The Official UK Charts company has announced that digital downloads will count towards the total singles chart within 18 months. Only legitimate downloads will count (i.e. not from file sharing networks). In the more immediate future, a separate chart digital download chart will be launched this year.
Though the development brings welcome exposure to the legitimate European online music market, the benefits will be largely marketing orientated until the contributing services provide far greater consumer choice. The charts will be largely fed by OD2 powered services, which (due to the licenses granted to them by the majors) means that the choice of tracks available for purchase will be very different from that available in the high street. Thus any digital download chart data will be artificially skewed. However, the Official UK Charts company is unlikely to be too worried until the number of digital sales become large enough to skew the all formats sales data.