Billboard Adds Streaming You Tube To Chart Calculations

You Tube streams are now being considered when compiling Billboard charts. This means a big change to the the Billboard 100 methodology.

Billboard and Nielsen announced today the addition of U.S. YouTube video streaming data to its platforms, which includes an update to the methodology for the Billboard Hot 100, the preeminent singles chart.

The YouTube streaming data is now factored into the chart’s ranking, enhancing a formula that includes Nielsen’s digital download track sales and physical singles sales; as well as terrestrial radio airplay, on-demand audio streaming, and online radio streaming, also tracked by Nielsen.

Billboard is now incorporating all official videos on YouTube captured by Nielsen’s streaming measurement, including Vevo on YouTube, and user-generated clips that utilize authorized audio into the Hot 100 and the Hot 100 formula-based genre charts – Hot Country Songs, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, R&B Songs, Rap Songs, Hot Latin Songs, Hot Rock Songs and Dance/Electronic Songs – to further reflect the divergent platforms for music consumption in today’s world.

Monetized song parodies will also count. In other words, if a song evolves into a major internet meme, such as “Call Me Maybe” and “Gangnam Style” did last summer, You Tube views could have a major impact on their chart positions. Currently, “Harlem Shake”, the latest You Tube craze, is the beneficiary of the rule change It debuts at No. 1 on both the Hot 100 and Streaming Songs charts and jumps 12-1 on Dance/Electronic Songs with 103 million views, according to YouTube.

What do you think of the change?


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  • Jason Scott

    I absolutely hate the change. While I do think Youtube should count, it should only be for the artsits’ official videos/pages. Once again, Billboard proves that they still don’t have the system down and it needs fixed.

    As a Country music fan, I wonder what this means for artists that don’t have a huge Youtube viewing presence. Sigh.

  • zaclona77

    I would have to agree with the first poster that the change seems rather ridiculous, however it got me thinking about what exactly does the Billboard chart stand for and what does it try to represent? What does a Billboard rank position mean for a single in general? Is it only about more visibility or are there some other aspects involved? Anyone have a better idea than me?

  • Mateja Praznik

    Oh whatever.  I don’t really take Hot 100 that seriously. I don’t think downloads, airplay and streaming should be combined in the first place. I prefer separate charts (downloads only, streaming only, airplay only, album sales).

  • davedpg

    Stupid changes, but I wonder how much of a video you’ll have to watch on Youtube for it to count, whether it’s a few seconds or whether you have to watch the full video.

  • Eilonwy

    Oh maaaannn…

    Okay, with Youtube as the 3rd most popular form of music discovery after radio and friends’ recommendations, it was time to add Youtube views to any measure of a song’s popularity.

    But the current #1 is definitely a “wut?” moment, and I have a sinking feeling that my local indie station was trying to launch an internet meme around a truly bad song* this morning to parody the whole change. Before too long, somebody’s going to succeed at that. (Meanwhile, Bill Werde and Claude Kelly are exchanging self-congratulatory tweets about “cream rising to the top.”)
    *Not “different tastes” bad, but “entire lyrics consist of ‘Sunny D and rum, yum yum'” bad.

    Werde was also merrily tweeting last night about how radio’s obsolete and he thinks it should be put out of business.

    Personally, I’m with Mateja Praznik on preferring separate charts so that I know what’s being measured, as often what I’d like to estimate is the effect of radio play, streaming, video views, etc. on a song’s sales. The current Hot 100 notion seems to be to measure a song’s “popularity” in some broad general sense.

    What I’d really like to know is how the labels use this data in making decisions.

    Honestly, I’m veering toward getting my new music from my local indie station (a rarity, and who knows how long it’ll survive) and putting most of my music dollar into supporting local bands. I have nothing against acts succeeding on a larger scale — obviously, most need to, in order to incorporate protein other than beans and Taco Bell into their diets — but the whole corporate-entertainment complex is becoming wearing.

  • standtotheright

    (Meanwhile, Bill Werde and Claude Kelly are exchanging self-congratulatory tweets about “cream rising to the top.”)

    Oh, I don’t know about that. I think they’re saying that “quality” isn’t what any of these statistics measure, including radio. They’re measuring engagement and ubiquity, and in a “style-driven era” sometimes people are engaged by other factors than a sober reflection on the quality of the song.

    He’s also saying that in an average week, YT hits will count toward 10 percent of the total ranking. People may not like it, but Harlem Shake (which is, FTR, not accepted as anything like by actual residents of Harlem) was apparently top 5 in sales last week.

    I’d like to pick out some of the tweets but lack the time right now. It’s worth reading the feed though:

  • Eilonwy

    I think they’re saying that “quality” isn’t what any of these statistics measure, including radio. They’re measuring engagement and ubiquity, and in a “style-driven era” sometimes people are engaged by other factors than a sober reflection on the quality of the song.

    At no point have I ever taken the position that it’s the responsibility of Billboard’s charts to measure “quality” in any sense. Of course, there’s no way for somebody to know that off-hand, and I failed to state this explicitly in my post, so the fault is mine. I was actually surprised that Werde and Kelly were running the “cream rising to the top” argument as a justification for the change — I think “measuring what actually interests music fans” is sufficient justification in itself.

    My preference for charts that let me edge toward understanding cause and effect was also not intended as a requirement that Billboard has any duty to supply me with this information. I find the data interesting, but I recognize that a numbers-gathering organization makes money from selling proprietary data, so I’m not going to get what I want. Again, I failed to make myself clear.

    Similarly, I’d love to know what labels make of the non-sales information and how they use it in decision-making because it would give insight into the A&R process and would be fun to know. The implication that they shouldn’t use it or that this data is somehow lesser and irrelevant was completely unintended, despite my bad reputation for questioning the link between social media use and sales. To be clear, I think labels absolutely should crunch a wide variety of numbers to get a handle on which ones really drive financial results; I’m not even close to automatically deriding high-selling songs or albums as “low quality” (or, conversely, insisting that sales alone are the measure of quality); and I wouldn’t be alarmed if the best metrics for driving financials are something that’s not in the traditional tool kit.

  • Brittany Keener

    This is quite possibly the stupidest decision BB has ever made. Hot 100 is now a joke. Literally….a joke.

  • Leandro

    This is pure madness. They’re innaugurate the Harlem Shake charts era. There are hundreds of music videos that have become viral for all the wrong reasons, but now those videos will top the charts.

  • Eilonwy

    There are hundreds of music videos that have become viral for all the wrong reasons, but now those videos will top the charts.

    To be fair to Werde, he did explicitly recognize in his tweets that the Youtube metric might have to be tweaked at some point to deal with videos that go viral because people hate the song:

    @ClaudeKelly working on rules to consider relative value of anti-hits, ie Rebecca Black.

    The tweet-up around that tweet is interesting (apparently my favorite DJ was slow in hopping on the “Sunny D and Rum” bandwagon and it’s already the interwebs’ favorite example of impending doooooooom). Werde goes back and forth on whether there should be any distinction based on whether people are listening because they like the song or listening to mock. Certainly TV ratings don’t distinguish whether viewers tune in as a fandom or a hatedom, so there’s some precedent for saying “you watch, we measure, if you watch for schadenfreude so that horrible art is rewarded over your favorite artists, it’s not our fault that you don’t like the outcomes of your own behavior.” (But then, TV ratings also don’t include parody videos and meme usages… so it’s a complex measurement issue.)

    I’d love to know what kind of testing of fence-post conditions (e.g., schadenfreude-driven videos that get enough views to chart high) went into working out the current rules, but again — that’s because it’s a business process I find interesting, not because I think Billboard has any duty to tell me or because I think they must have screwed it up.

  • standtotheright

    I was actually surprised that Werde and Kelly were running the “cream rising to the top” argument as a justification for the change

    Oh, see, that’s where we differ. I don’t think they were suggesting that it was a justification for the change in the weekly stats at all. Kelly immediately preceded that statement with concern about the change encouraging “trivial” hits being driven more by image than content, which is entirely likely in a weekly hot 100. I think his second statement was a long-term, self-reassuring view about the industry, whether or not it is being encapsulated with a tidy metric.

    I’m not suggesting that there’s no validity to reporting separate charts for sales and streaming and airplay (oh my!) at all. Moar charts! But the Hot 100 has invariably had so much secret sauce in it that at least having reported ratios of contribution seems to help decompose it better than in the past.

  • Eilonwy

    But the Hot 100 has invariably had so much secret sauce in it that at least having reported ratios of contribution seems to help decompose it better than in the past.

    Maaaaan, I was completely unclear! I’ve never thought the Hot 100 was transparent or fulfilled the specific quantitative criteria that would thrill my little number-crunching heart. The reported ratios are fine. 

    My original remark was more an aside, which I guess would have horrified my high school English teacher as being tangential to the issue and having no place in a brief messageboard posting. I will have to mend my ways.

  • Tom22

    Who listens to radio anymore?  A much smaller slice and Youtube, as they said is a major means of discovery and even repeated listens before buying (or illegally stealing) a song.  Selling the songs directly isn’t the only way money is made (popularity leads to tour attendance and add revenues and promotional fees for ad spots etc)  It seems 100% fitting to switch to include the current way people hear music they don’t yet own .

    Gimic songs?   They’ve been around forever and they won’t always dominate..but do for weeks.   Remember Kong Fu fighting and Yes they call it the streak in the 1970’s ?  I know there have been others in more recent decades between those and Gagnam Style.   I’m not sure that “come-on aileen” is quite there but it was a silly song almost there in the 80’s .  I’m sure people can think of a few in the 1990s and 2000’s — some of the mainstream song styles almost walked the line of parodying themselves anyway . I’ll come up with some name soon.

  • revolution

    The language is vague as to what constitutes authorized. For example I have a video up of “dead weight” from 2 years ago that Crystal Bowersox re-tweeted, I would think that doesn’t make it authorized but what does? wouldn’t it be smart for a label to authorize as much as they can to pump up the numbers?

  • Alexandria

    billboard has become a complete joke now. those #1’s on the hot 100 won’t mean anything anymore (I mean, come on, it includes parodies? if you’re going to include youtube views, only include the views from the official channel). now, any viral hit that includes a song in it will become #1 -_-

  • TheOther

    Who listens to radio anymore?

    I would say a lot of the people that bought Phillip Phillip’s Home and help it sell over 4M copies.  It’s also radio that has been moving his new single, Gone, Gone, Gone.

  • jan

    It will be interesting to see attempts to game the system. What would happen if music was attached to a video of laughing babies? playing puppies? jackass type stunts? half naked women?

    I know I clicked on a link to puppies dancing the Harlem Shake – not knowing it had anything to do with music – and not really even noticing the music. It’s only last night that I found out that my youtube view counted as a view in support of (or even curiousity about) a song. I just thought I would be watching a cute video about puppies.

  • Eilonwy

     those #1’s on the hot 100 won’t mean anything anymore

    To be fair, those #1s will mean whatever the chart measures, as has always been the case.

    Prior to the change, the BB Hot 100 measured some unspecified mix of sales, radio play, and streaming. Before streaming was added a couple years ago, it went through many interations as some unspecified mix of sales and radio play. It’s generally known that sales counted very little during the 1990s and very early 2000s, as music listeners mostly didn’t consume music as singles back then. In other eras before and after, singles sales weighed more heavily because people were/are into singles as a music format.

    So what we’ve got here is an effort to measure how people consume music today. A solid study from late 2011 found that terrestrial radio was the #1 source of music discovery, personal recommendations were #2, and Youtube was #3, with streaming #4. 

    Midway through 2012, here’s more data on how Youtube is the dominant form of online music consumption, with a hefty lead over Pandora.

    Those two items together make a solid case for incorporating Youtube views into the Hot 100 measurement, as long as the Hot 100 is assumed to have a history as a measure of “how we consume music today” rather than as a measure of “sales and radio play.” 

    Passing music around as a meme or in the shape of parodies is also a real form of consumption. It’s much less under labels’ control than are official videos (though I’ll bet some labels start putting out parody videos on purpose if that’s a major form of hits). I’m curious whether Werde is right that very few parodies or memes generate enough hits to compete with official music videos, but it’s curious in the sense of “want to see what happens,” not in the sense of “yeah, sure, don’t believe that.”

  • H.A.
  • irockhard

    Anything by Weird Al Yankovic.

  • Leandro

    I don’t have too much information about BB charts and how they are calculated, hence I can’t discuss it too much with you. But in my humble opinion, charts should be only about numbers of sales. I think that’s what matters, at the end of the day. 

  • H.A.

     #3. Straight Up Paying to Get Their Song on the Radio

    Hey, do you remember when, for a brief period of time, Limp Bizkit
    was the biggest band in the world? Ever wonder how that whole thing

    You may have heard of payola
    before — it’s the shady practice of paying radio station programmers
    and disc jockeys cash under the table to include a specific song or
    group of songs in their rotation. It was outlawed at one point, but that
    doesn’t mean it went away. They call it pay-for-play now, and record
    labels get around the illegal part by being totally up front when a cash
    exchange takes place. That’s how we wound up with Limp Bizkit, and
    we’re not being sarcastic — it was literally a pay-for-play scheme
    that helped propel Limp Bizkit from terrible rap-rock band to terrible
    rap-rock band that we heard all the time for a few years there in the
    early 2000s.
    In a perfectly legal deal between Flip/Interscope Records and Portland,
    Oregon’s KUFO-FM, Limp Bizkit’s early single “Counterfeit” (which is
    presumably about Fred Durst’s degree from rap college) was played 50
    times on the station over the span of five weeks in exchange for $5,000
    from the label. They were able to get away with this skirting of payola
    laws by simply adding a blurb that said “Brought to you by
    Flip/Interscope” at the beginning of the song.
    Read more: Philip should thank Jimmy Ivione for his hit single. He’s been known in the business as one of the sleaziest, crooked record exec in the business.

  • Jenny Williams

     Radio is the one medium that creates sure fire hits. You don’t sell your Singles if Radio doesn’t play it. Just ask any of the idols without much airplay  e.g Adam Lambert.

  • standtotheright

    But in my humble opinion, charts should be only about numbers of sales. I think that’s what matters, at the end of the day.

    The problem is that there’s enough movement towards cloud/subscription/streaming/etc as the primary method of music consumption that eventually all physical and digital sales might be like sales of vinyl are now: stubbornly present despite technological changes and a mark of pride and good breeding among the adherents, but irrelevant for the vast majority of listeners. It may take a long time to get there. It may in fact never happen. But the balance is likely to move away from discrete purchases.

  • H.A.

    Times are changing. Lack of radio doesn’t only apply to Idols but to most artists that doesn’t include the same 20 artists you hear over and over. If anyone has been paying attention labels who can’t get a break with some of their artists because of the corporate radio chokehold are not looking to pay them off anymore. It’s why the changes are coming. The Grammy just had a summit about radio and the dirty business involved. It’s why more and more artists aren’t rushing to sign with major labels.

  • Tom22

    Tremendous Links H.A.  and each of them refers to additional great resources.  I got more understanding of the current state of affairs in the last 60 minutes of reading them than hundreds of articles at these fan sites (that to be fair have other goals).

  • H.A.

    People need to listen to the artists who have been in the business for a long time who put out the behind the scene information themselves. None of this is new stuff. Your hearing about the changes now because labels revenue are no longer album, singles sales. The industry can’t live on only 10-15 artists going platinum a year anymore.

  • Incipit

    None of this is new stuff.

     Thank you, H.A. HERE is another look at the payola angle – from an Indie’s POV – and instead of using euphemisms like ‘be very very nice to the PD’s’ – they come right out and say it’s corrupt….and the majors get preference because they are steady paying customers. Refreshing, even while it is disgusting.

    Every time the industry comes close to addressing this, it gets swept under the rug, and some one redecorates…one of the times it almost happened was the Drugs for Play and the Clive Davis scandal in ’73, ’74 at Columbia Broadcasting. I doubt much has changed. IMO.

  • mmb

    I think there is — or hope there is — starting to be a frustration with the continued contraction of radio playlists.  Number 1 songs now frequently get 15-16K spins per week.  That is ridiculous.  Just to get in the top ten now you need @8K spins per week.  That is twice as much as was needed ten years ago.  While fans of certain artists cheer the breaking of top spin records on an almost weekly basis it seems, I think that its horrible for the music industry.  The gap between the number 40 song and the number 1 song at CHR is incredible.  Basically playlists are limited to 10-20 songs. But I’m not sure that the new BB Hot 100 rules are going to do much — other than get some more novelty songs more time at No. 1, and result in lower hot 100 peaks for some artists with strong airplay and sales, but weak streaming/youtube views. 

  • Tom22

    Yeah , H.A.  I understand none of it is new.. and to be honest I have seen many of the things said before. That being said there was more there and more current information.  I hadn’t read about that friendship between Morris and Steve Jobs, and hadn’t really read about the intrigque between vevo and google and googles 650 million payment (investment?) .

    The audio/visual examples of how music was being made to sound crappy (well by my definition of enjoying a crisp but not overwhelming rhythm section behind the melody.. not blurred with it) were also more clear than I’ve seen.  I’ve read about that, but the short videos embeded really made it clear.

    Not everyone clicks links (many posters are spammers and people are smartly wary).  Your links are really interesting to people who are interested in music and were links to large publications sites (businessweek , forbes,  cracked(sorta big).

  • H.A.

    Incipit, good article.

    Top of the Pops: YouTube Shakes Up the Billboard Charts

    Are we entering a new Video-Killed-the-Radio-Star era, a period in which, more than ever, we’ll watch our hit songs? Q&A

  • David Facenfield

    given what the H100 is supposed to track, it makes sense to me to include YT views… it’s more a matter of how they do that… what to include/exclude, what waiting to give it etc… as many have already pointed out

  • HKfan

    But  how can artists sell their records when the radio stations only have  a playlist of about 20 songs. People can’t buy music they don’t hear. Hardly anyone I know listens to the radio anyway, especially the teens and young adults, they all listen to music on line, and find new music through friends and the internet on things like spotify and 8tracks.
    So many people listen to music through the internet now, that its only right that the charts change to reflect this.

  • LongKissGoodnight

    It just came to me that is music videos, covers and parodies count because people are getting exposed to the song, so should TV commercials that are using the song, no?