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Nmeindie

Indie Charts published in the NME from December 1983

The Indie Charts are charts of the best-selling independent singles and albums, respectively, in the United Kingdom. Originally published in January 1980, and widely known as the "indie chart", the relevance of the chart dwindled in the 1990s as major-label ownership blurred the boundary between independent and major labels.

In the wake of punk, small record labels began to spring up, as an outlet for artists that were unwilling to sign contracts with major record companies, or were not considered commercially attractive to those companies. By 1978, labels like Cherry Red, Rough Trade, and Mute had started up, and a support structure soon followed, including independent pressing, distribution and promotion. These labels got bigger and bigger, and by 1980 were having top 10 hits in the UK Singles Chart. Chart success was limited, however, since the official top 40 was based on sales at large chains and ignored significant sales at the scores of independent record shops that existed. Iain McNay of Cherry Red suggested to the weekly trade paper Record Business the idea of an independent record chart to address the problem, and the first independent chart appeared in 1980, published in Record Week, and later licensed to Sounds.

The definition of whether or not a single was "indie" had depended on the distribution channel by which it was shipped —the record needed to be delivered by a distribution service that was independent of the four major record companies: EMI, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group. In 1981, compilation of the chart switched to research company MRIB. The chart served to give exposure to the independent labels and the artists on those labels. In 1985, Music Week started compiling its own indie chart, but failed to meet the authority of the original chart. Other weekly music papers such as the NME and Melody Maker also published their own charts, often compiled from single record shops.

The Chart Show Indie Chart (12th September 1986)

The Chart Show Indie Chart (12th September 1986)

The indie charts published by MRIB were often shown on television such as The Chart Show, a music video programme, broadcast on Channel 4 between 1986 and 1988. Between 1989 and 1998, when The Chart Show was moved to ITV, they started to use their own indie charts and stopped using the ones by MRIB.

By the end of the 80's, the significance of the chart had been diluted by major record companies forming their own 'indie' labels, with independent distribution, in order to break new acts via exposure from the indie chart. Although the independent chart has less relevance today, The Official UK Charts Company still compiles a chart, consisting of those singles from the main chart on independent labels.

Links to Peel

In the 80's, Peel made various comments on the Indie Charts, most of the time disparaging it, calling it conservative in taste or as on his 06 December 1988 (Radio Bremen) show, mostly full of twerps. Interestingly most of the acts that did reach number 1 in the indie charts during the 80's were played by Peel on his shows. The main criticism Peel felt about the indie charts was that it consisted mainly of "white boys with guitars" and rarely showed the other types of genres such as dance, hip hop and world music.

However, when his favourite bands like Half Man Half Biscuit or Napalm Death achieved number 1 in the indie album charts during the 80's, he would give praise of those achievements on his shows.

Between the 1990 and 2004, Peel rarely made any comments on the indie charts, due to it becoming less relevant, when major record companies started to form their own indie labels and traditional indie music in the indie charts being dominated first by Stock, Aitken & Waterman pop acts and then later commercial sounding records that had very little relevance to the indie music scene.

Peel Sessions

Many of Peel's sessions were released as singles and albums and entered the indie charts in the late 80's and early 90's. This is the list of Peel Sessions during the 80's that entered the indie charts run by MRIB, with their highest chart positions:

1980
1982
1986
1987
1988
1989

See Also

External Links