As One Door Closes….?

One or two of the more astute readers had already figured it out. The news, announced a little over a week ago, that the Yahoo! Music site was to close down at the end of September clearly had implications for the weekly Chart Watch UK column I’d been writing for the site for the last few years. This was particularly pertinent given that Yahoo! were keen to direct traffic instead to their new celebrity-focused OMG! site which clearly had little room for the kind of forensic account of the week’s chart movements that I’d been supplying.

This week my contract to supply content for the internet giant expired, and so the Chart Watch UK column which is now live online is the last one which will appear on those pages. None of this came as a surprise, my editors have been totally upfront about the potential changes from the start, warning earlier in the year that there was a strong possibility this would happen and giving plenty of notice of the changes. Even notice periods have to come to an end though, and so here we are.

In a sense I’ve actually been extremely fortunate to have had such a long unbroken run online, especially given the way internet sites have come and gone over the years. After initially writing a weekly roundup of the UK charts on the old usenet group rec.music.misc in November 1992 (a very early example can be found here) I was hired by the publishers of Music Week in the summer of 1995 to start writing for the brand new website dotmusic.com which they were launching. The full summer of how that came about is one I’ve written about before. Dotmusic went through a variety of incarnations and several different editors and owners during the time in was in existence, becoming a fully fledged consumer facing site in the late 90s, complete with expensively produced TV commercials, before being bought around 2002 by BT who used it as the focus of a series of consumer websites they ran around that time. When BT and Yahoo! got into bed with one another in 2003 to launch a co-branded internet and content service, dotmusic was part of that deal and the brand was folded into their own Launch site, which would eventually evolve into Yahoo! Music.

Throughout all of these changes I just came along for the ride each time, picked up by each new owner and every new editorial team as a core part of the site’s content, even if sometimes they did have to find new ways to shoehorn me into the design. I took it as a huge compliment that the readership I attracted and the unique selling point my weekly ramblings gave the site made it continually worthwhile to have me on board.

For now, at least, the ride is over. For the first time in over 16 years I don’t have a home for Chart Watch UK. However I don’t intend this to be the end for my almost lifelong passion just yet. I’m in discussions with a number of places for a new home for the column and I hope to be able to resurrect it sometime soon. In the meantime the weekly podcast will become the focus of the story each week, and you can access that by clicking on the links in the top right, whether by listening on the main feed or subscribing via iTunes. I’ve loved following the music charts ever since I was a teenager and have been privileged to share that love with a huge worldwide audience for two decades now. That’s not a passion which will die out overnight I promise you.

For now it seems appropriate to thank the long line of editors and curators who have stuck with me for the last decade and a half. They include my original Music Week editor Steve Redmond, Andy Stickland, Chris Sice, James Poletti, Ben “7 Digital” Drury, Gareth Bellamy, Ben “Fear Of Tigers” Berry and last but not least Paul Johnston, as well as all the other weekend staff I used to deal with as we passed copy back and forth over email before content management systems for websites were created.

Hope to see everyone in a new home soon, and in the meantime I’ll keep everyone posted as to what happens next. I might miss the Saturdays getting their first ever Number One dammit!

11 Comments

  1. Ooh James, the news caught me completely by surprise and I feel very sad to lose my weekly move into UK charts story : I read your lines since Dotmusic and it’s been a weekly rendezvous with the UK charts even though I’m french and live in France but your comments made me become more passionate about the UK charts than the french ones… so I really hope there’ll soon be another place where to find your lines to read (my own blog can’t afford it I’m afraid…) and I’ve already bookmarked your site in hope to read news here in the meanwhile! xxx
    RV

    • Really sad to read that your time with Yahoo! Music has come to an end. I started reading your Chart Watch a couple of years ago and wish I had found it sooner! I now regularly log into your Sunday night Chart Bite before the extended version on a Monday evening. Please keep us posted. I will definitely be following you wherever your new home is. Hopefully before the end of this year!
      Thanks for all your hard work.
      AS

  2. Good luck with it, James. I’ve been following the column through the Yahoo era. I’m sure you’re well aware of the valuable service you provide, keeping people of a certain age vaguely in touch with all these grimey rappers and emu bands. Cheers. S.

  3. Fan here from the Philippines. So sad to see your column go :( Thanks for all those years of chart geekdom. Hope to see the column soon in someplace online:)

  4. James

    Now you have your own place and you can say whatever you really want to.

    Good luck with this site and I look forward to popping in here every week.

    Tom

  5. Hi James,

    Sad to see the site close but as you say, hopefully another door will open and it was a great run!

    Thanks for the shout.

    Ben “Fear of Tigers” Berry!

  6. Gutted re Chart Watch – but so glad to find you here!

  7. Hi James,
    I´m also quite disappointed to miss your commentatories in the next few weeks until you´ve found a new home for them. But I´ve got another bunch of people who should hire you: BBC 1. After hearing one of your latest podcasts I think you´re the right person to replace Reggie Yates as the presenter of the Chart Show. I live in Germany and last week I turned 40, so you can imagine that I started listening to chart music back in the 1980´s and the source for it was at that time the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) over here. Back in those glory days the British charts were presented by Charles Foster (anyone who remembers him ?) and the American Charts by the famous Paul Gambaccini.
    I remember a few occasions when I got up at 4 o´clock in the morning (on weekends :) ) to listen to their shows because I missed the original airing.
    They were presenting their shows in quite unspectacular style but with passion for the music they were playing. I used to listen via the BBC website for a couple of month to Reggie, but I really don´t like his style. He reminds me of Fozzie Bear being on drugs ( @ James: If this comparison is too harsh/offending, please edit it out, I don´t want you getting into trouble).

  8. Such a shame re: Chart Watch. Followed this since the dotmusic days and, despite often disagreeing with you (your Rage Against The Machine/X-Factor stance still baffles me), your forensic coverage of chart action remains unsurpassed. Look forward to following your next endeavour.

  9. James can’t you set up a facebook or something where you will post your commentary? This is the first Monday without your commentary and I miss it! I’ve been reading it forever, since 2002.

    Well in the end The Saturdays didn’t get their first Number One. Again.

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