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Midweeks are lists of sales figures for music albums and singles in the United Kingdom during the period between the weekly chart publication on Sundays. They are officially known as "sales flashes" but more frequently referred to as midweeks as they are released on Wednesdays.
Midweeks were formerly only available to music industry insiders who paid the Official Charts Company a fee for the data. The figures help management and record companies gauge how well their artists are selling in advance of the official announcement of the charts on Sunday evening. The first figures of the week are released on Wednesdays based on sales since the start of the chart week on Sunday. This allows a sales strategy to be modified during the week of a single's release based on its performance, e.g. more advertising or media appearances for the artist, in the hope of boosting the final chart position at the end of the week.
However, precisely because of their role in predicting the final chart, midweeks have always been highly sought after by music enthusiasts and fans of artists who are releasing albums or singles. Before midweeks started being officially published, those who received the figures were prohibited from re-distributing them but they were always leaked and several websites, blogs and forums published them. The OCC occasionally threatened legal action, but generally turned a blind eye so long as actual sales figures were avoided. Many showbiz columns in tabloid newspapers on Wednesdays also announced who was likely to be number one on Sunday.
The final published chart is not always well-predicted by midweeks. For example, some artists often sell well during the early part of the week because loyal fans purchase the new releases right when they hit the shops. But as the week progresses, casual music buyers become a stronger force and those who sell primarily to their established fanbase see their sales tail off. For instance, Truesteppers & Dane Bowers ft. Victoria Beckham had the midweek number one with "Out of Your Mind", but Spiller ft. Sophie Ellis Bextor with "Groovejet (If This Ain't Love)" got the end of week number one in just one day, Saturday. In the week ending 5 July 2009, the midweeks were very unreliable, as far as the #1 anyway. The sales flashes showed "Man In The Mirror" by Michael Jackson as #1 all week, but this got overtaken on Saturday by Cascada's "Evacuate the Dancefloor". This isn't too rare an occurrence, but strangely, the same happened in the albums midweeks: La Roux's debut album La Roux was shown at #1 from Tuesday to Friday, but was overtaken on Saturday by Michael Jackson's Essential collection.
In January 2010 the Official Charts Company (OCC) announced that BBC Radio 1 would be revealing midweek chart positions. Martin Talbot of the OCC said that "It could even be the biggest change to the chart in almost 60 years".