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Net downloads change face of UK charts

Unsigned act enters top ten

Koopa made history in yesterday’s music charts by becoming the first unsigned act to make it into the top 40.

The chart surprise follows this month's change in the rules for inclusion in the charts. As of January 1, all music made available for download sale qualifies for chart entry - even when its back catalogue or music from unsigned acts. To qualify for inclusion it's no longer necessary for digital tracks to be accompanied by a physical release (such as a CD).

Koopa - which took sixth place in yesterdays chart - is selling its music through UK digital music service, 7 Digital. The tracks are available in MP3, AAC and WMA formats - so you can get a version of the song no matter what music player or software you choose to use.

The charting single, 'Blag, Steal and Borrow', sat at number 33 in this week's mid-week charts and 97 per cent of its sales came through 7 Digital.

The band has made intelligent use of the web to make its accomplishment. Koopa has been using its website and MySpace page to encourage fans to buy the music using 7 Digital's innovative SMS pre-order service. Fans sent a text message to automatically receive the single when it shipped last Monday - and the music's still selling.

7 Digital managing director, Ben Drury, told Macworld UK: "This is an example of a band playing the digital game really well. Koopa have made their single available as widely as possible, have mobilised their fanbase by pointing MySpace visitors to their 7digital stores and have stimulated pre-release interest with pre-orders.

"The new rules have made the charts more of a level playing field for all artists, removing the costs associated with getting a physical single recorded, pressed and distributed. Any band with a healthy fanbase now has a crack at the charts."

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