Greg Carey, co-chair of the Association of Artist Managers (AAM) and former director of entertainment company Umbrella Music, launched his new music company just over two weeks ago.

Between running Grow Yourself Up, readying a new Saskwatch LP, managing Urthboy, and prepping his first ideas exchange event (MASS), he’s been crunching the numbers to find out what it would take to gain a Top 10 debut on the ARIA Albums chart – purely based on album streams.

In a blog post published on his site this week, Carey and his colleague Michael Ridgewell calculated that it would take “989.58 people streaming the album 24/7 to reach 1500 album sales”.

Read the full post below to see how they got to that number:

Last week ARIA announced that they’ll now be including album streams in their chart calculations, and this will certainly help to create a more equal playing field for ALL artists.

Some artists sell lots of physical (vinyl & CD), some sell digital downloads, whilst some acts attract more of a streaming consumer fanbase. For the very rare artists, they sell well across all mediums.

Let’s be fair, in the year 2017, we all know that it’s a combination of all formats – but now streaming in Australia accounts for 38% of the market. That is likely going to increase exponentially in the next 1-5 years. 

ARIA have come out with a formula that they believe fairly equates album streams to equivalent physical album sales. They call this the SCF, or Streaming Conversion Factor. 

 175 album streams = the equivalent of buying 1 physical digital album. 

We were curious. What would it take to sell 1500 albums in the first week (i.e. A top 10 debut some weeks), purely based on album streams?

We took a new album that we’re working on as a hypothetical:

Album length = 38 mins

175 x 38 minutes = 6650 mins for 1 sale

6650 / 60 = 110.83 hours = 1 sale 

1500 album sales = 166250 hrs

166250/168 (hours in a week)

= 989.58 people streaming the album 24/7 to reach 1500 album sales 

That’s an interesting statistic, but people aren’t going to be streaming an album 24/7 unless they are putting in a herculean effort to game the system. How many listeners would we need if they are only streaming this 38-minute album 3 times each in this first week? 

38 minutes x 3 = 114 minutes = 1.9 hours

166250 (hours for 1500 sales) / 1.9 (hours in 3 album streams) = 87,500 people streaming 3 times in week 1 to debut Top 20.

Keep in mind this is for full album streams. If you have 200,000,000 streams on singles 1 and 2, and your other 8 songs have 5,000, then those first two singles will only contribute 5,000 streams each.

This is because the ARIA calculation stipulates that the best 2 performing songs on an album are only counted as the average of the other songs ranked 3 to 10. This is to ensure that the album charts are not manipulated by standout singles, which does make sense, but there must be a better way.

This is some farfetched maths, but it does illustrate how unrealistic the SCF can be. With streaming becoming more prominent in this market, artists will be having less of their audience represented in their chart position.

Our guess is that ARIA will have to change this formula over the next year to make it more realistic towards consumer trends. Otherwise, the charts will end up not being a fair or realistic representation.