Billboard is known for their domination of the traditional mainstream music industry with their top 40, top 100, and top 200 charts. But recently, the entity made a startling announcement. They said that in 2018 they will weight the rankings differently than before.
To understand the meaning of this change, it’s important to understand that until 2012, streaming services like Spotify didn’t count toward rankings at all. It was all about album sales and radio play. But times changed, and so did Billboard, thanks to major artists like Taylor Swift pushing for more recognition of their music in other forms.
Now, Billboard is shaking things up again. They recently announced that they will decrease the amount that Youtube views and Spotify listens count toward the top 100 and top 200 rankings.
The reason is supposedly to reflect more on sales, like a movie would. You wouldn’t rate a movie as one of the best before it came out, but rather when the ticket sales proved it was a success.
With music, it seems that the short listening time and smaller file sizes make it easier to distribute online. People have parties, drive, and do homework with their earbuds in and speakers on. And when they do this, they often go to Youtube or Spotify.
And that’s the problem that we are faced with today. Is radio play really relevant in 2017 and beyond? Are album sales really reflective of how popular a song is and how often it is listened to?
For example, a song with 100 million views but small album sales could not be deemed irrelevant in common sense reality. But Billboard and the companies it serves are interested in their mainstream music agenda. It’s not about what’s getting listened to but what’s bringing in the money and what these entities can control.
For Indie music it’s clear that connecting with fans is worth it at any cost. Even if it means a drop in rankings, bands should continue to use Youtube and Spotify to get noticed. After all, who checks Billboard anymore anyway?