Reaching the top of the Billboard charts is the ultimate goal for any kid with a tune in his head or a song just dying to be played on her guitar. For years, these ranking charts have relied on traditional metrics: number of plays on radio stations and album sales. Clearly, in the modern music market, such measurements are out of date and unlikely to provide insightful assessments of which songs are truly generating the most interest among the coolest fans.
After several false starts, Billboard and Twitter have collaborated to come up with what they believe will be the best solution. Billboard will rank mentions and shares of music communicated through Twitter. The social media site is rich with discussions of music. According to informal estimates, music is the most discussed topic, and seven of the top ten accounts are held by musicians.
The charts will break new ground in several ways. In particular, they will reflect real-time trends. That is, bands can track at virtually every moment how many mentions their latest singles are getting. Billboard already integrates information from YouTube, but this advance helps solidify its position as a list maker for modern music listeners too, not just those who rely on the radio. Because they are based on users’ own tweets, the charts level the playing ground, at least somewhat, for newer and unconventional artists. If a trend-setting consumer gets lots of his or her followers to start talking about an exciting new band, that band is not limited to the rules that a music publisher or label establishes for them.
To access these charts, interested readers—fans, music professionals, and artists alike—can visit Billboard.com directly. Of course, they can also reach them through Billboard’s own Twitter feed.
A previous attempt to harness the music-related information that real consumers tweet on a daily basis was Twitter’s #Music app. Unfortunately, the unwieldy and ultimately unpopular app never lived up to its promise, and Twitter cancelled it recently, in preparation for the Billboard launch. With this approach, Twitter has staked out its official claim, namely, it “wants music business decisions to be based on Twitter data.”
Source: Ben Sisario, “Tweets About Music to Get a Billboard Chart,” The New York Times, March 27, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com