Billboard Announces New Streaming Chart

Billboard, Nielsen and NARM’s digitalmusic.org announced at SXSW today the launch of the first-ever subscription services “On-Demand Songs” chart, and that this data will also be included in the Billboard Hot 100, the preeminent singles chart in the United States. On-demand streaming data is now factored into the chart’s ranking, enhancing a formula that includes digital download track sales and physical singles sales, as tracked by Nielsen SoundScan; as well as radio airplay and other streaming services, as tracked by Nielsen BDS.

“Over the past ten years, we atRhapsody have known that our customers have a voracious appetite for music that spreads far beyond the genres at the top of the charts, so it’s great to see that this will finally be reflected in the Hot 100,” said Jon Maples, head of product and content programming, Rhapsody. “The measurement of actual playback of music rather than only purchase is a fundamentally different way of thinking of charting and will better reflect the true popularity of artists and songs.”

 

This new Billboard chart, in coordination with digitalmusic.org’s Subscription Music Work Group, and powered by Nielsen BDS, which began tracking streaming activity in 2005, measures every on-demand play request and plays from unlimited listener-controlled radio channels on MOG, Muve Music, Rdio, Rhapsody, Slacker and Spotify; data from Zune and Sony Music Unlimited is expected to be added in the coming weeks. The plays tracked for the On-Demand Songs chart include streams and tethered downloads by both paying and free/trial tier users. Through the first 70 days of 2012, Nielsen BDS has captured more than 4.5. billion audio streams.

The Hot 100 formula, in addition to tracking terrestrial radio and digital track sales, will now account for the streaming data that makes up the On-Demand Songs chart, as well as non-demand radio streams from Rhapsody and Slacker. The chart rankings will also measure plays on video request service Akoo and audio on-demand streams from MySpace and Guvera. Yahoo! radio streams and Yahoo! on-demand video plays, which were previously part of the Hot 100 formula, will continue to contribute to the chart’s ranking. The streaming data is provided to and processed by Nielsen BDS, which provides music research and monitoring services for the entertainment industry.

The first-ever No. 1 atop On-Demand Songs belongs to U.K. act fun. and its anthemic hit “We Are Young,” featuring Janelle Monae, with a total of 1.1 million streams, according to Nielsen BDS. The track also tops the re-formatted Billboard Hot 100 for a second consecutive week. The rest of the On-Demand Songs top five are as follows: “Somebody That I Used To Know” by Gotye featuring Kimbra, “Rack City” by Tyga, “Ni**as In Paris” by Jay-Z & Kanye West and “Take Care” by Drake featuring Rihanna. Each of those songs posts a better ranking on this week’s Hot 100 than it would have had the chart not undergone this week’s addition of greater streaming data. For instance, Gotye’s track ranks at No. 5 on the Hot 100, instead of No. 8, while the Drake/Rihanna collaboration re-enters the top 10 at a new peak of No. 7; it would have remained outside the top 10 under the old formula.

Other notable titles on the On-Demand Songs chart that are outperforming their sales rankings and airplay placements on the Hot 100’s main component charts (Digital Songs and  Radio Songs) include Tyga’s “Rack City,” Big Sean’s “Dance (A$$)” and Avicii’s “Levels.” The addition of streaming data to the Hot 100 thusly boosts these songs’ standings on that chart, as evidenced by the No. 15 rank for Tyga (instead of No. 18), the No. 40 rank for Big Sean (instead of No. 52) and the No. 66 rank for Avicii (instead of No. 80). Moreover, artists such as M83 at No. 74 (with “Midnight City”), and Skrillex at No. 83 (with “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites”), debut and re-enter, respectively, on the Hot 100 primarily due to the influx of data from the newly incorporated streaming services. Also, a prior established hit, “You Da One” by Rihanna (No. 31 on On-Demand Songs), moves 97-76 on this week’s Hot 100, whereas it would have fallen off the chart if the list’s methodology had not been changed.