Changes in Music Consumption

Since Billboard introduced a new formula to determine rankings on the Hot 100 singles chart earlier this year, it immediately made an enormous impact in the music business. Regardless of the backlashes this change received from labels, or the approval from other parties, this change has been a positive influence for many artists; particularly new and unknown artists.

Billboard has always been validated as the source to go to for determining top selling music. Their rankings are often where people look at to find out what is popular, and are also how people determine what music to purchase. The formula that generates the rankings, created by Nielsen SounsScan, has traditionally included physical CD sales, digital downloads, radio airplay as well as online radio streaming. But YouTube video streaming data has now been incorporated into this formula, changing the major players that are on top of that list. For instance, for an unknown artists such as Baauer, this updated formula immediately pushed his song “Harlem Shake” to the number one spot due to thousands of YouTube videos generated on this viral song. Similarly, “Gangnam Style” by Korean sensation Psy, which went viral on YouTube with its fascinating dance moves, also jumped to the No. 1 spot on the Rap Songs chart (even though he has not been fully embraced by the American audience as a genuine rapper).

All of this is good news for artists such as Baauer and Psy, who otherwise would not have garnered the amount of attention they needed to top the charts through the traditional platforms. Getting your music on radio and making your name well known often requires a lot of promotional money and marketing efforts from record labels. Billboard charts are therefore often to predict, based on the major labels that are behind the artists on the charts and the type of music they release (generally pop). But this change in the Billboard formula give artists a chance to reach fame even without being backed financially by a record label, or signed to any deal. In addition, it shifts the attention away from mainstream pop and rap, giving other genres, such as indie or country, a chance to climb onto the Billboard chart based on their online audience base. Sure, there are still debates on whether this change in formula really reflects the consumption of music or the money flw in the business. Record labels can possibly manipulate the views on YouTube and generate unauthentic “hits” for their major talents. But the Billboard chart with its with formula is created to reflect what the public is currently listening to on a week-to-week basis, regardless of the actual money it brings in. So if you’re a new artist, pay close attention. Billboard might have just provided a new model for you to break into the industry.

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