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Billboard is Now Counting YouTube Plays in Its Top 100 Formula

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Billboard Top 100

See? I’m not the only one who thinks that the idea of trumping up album sales as the sole measure of a band’s success is quaint and dated.

Billboard agrees: as of last week, they’re now factoring YouTube plays into the formula used to calculate their Hot 100 chart. The move is just in time for — and partially inspired by — Baauer’s viral hit “Harlem Shake,” which instantly skyrocketed to the top of the Hot 100 chart thanks to the millions of video views it’s receiving (it wasn’t on the chart at all in the week prior, and would’ve only cracked the Top 15 this week if YouTube plays weren’t counted).

Billboard editor Bill Werde says the magazine has been considered restructuring its ranking methodology for some time now, and that they’ve been in discussions with YouTube for nearly two years:

The notion that a song has to sell in order to be a hit feels a little two or three years ago to me. The music business today — much to its credit — has started to learn that there are lots of different ways a song can be a hit, and lots of different ways that the business can benefit from it being a hit.

In addition to sales and YouTube plays, Billboard’s chart also factors in radio airplay and streams on services like Spotify. Their sales figures come from Nielsen, the same service whose numbers everyone else uses (including us). Nielsen now tracks Spotify (et al) streams too, but those numbers aren’t incorporated into one all-encompassing ranking like Billboard’s.

Now if only Billboard could find a way to include social network activity, tour figures and merch sales too we’d finally have one ranking system worth a damn.

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