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Published on October 25th, 2012 | by Hugh Hession


Billboard re-defines the hit song by adding streaming and downloads to genre charts

Billboard has recently announced that they will now include both streaming and digital downloads to their methodology for the genre-specific charts including Hot Country Songs, Hot R&B Hip Hop Songs, Rap Songs, Hot Rock Songs and Hot Latin Charts, . This change will now align the top genre charting songs with the Billboard Top 100.

What does this mean? Basically, cross-over artists can now enjoy chart success in their specific genre.

Taylor Swift is a perfect example. Whereas her latest song “We Are Never Getting Back Together,” is a bona-fide, Top 100 hit, it sure hasn’t been getting much attention on country radio. No matter. Because the song has sold well, she is #1 on the Hot Country Songs chart. Before the change, this would not have been possible. Rihanna is yet another example. Her latest hit “Diamonds,” is not a typical urban radio pick. However the song has accumulated massive streaming activity, giving her a #1 on the R&B Hip Hop Song chart.

Originally, songs included on these genre-specific charts were measured solely by airplay. With the additions in methodology, Billboard will now have a more accurate reflection of the modern music industry – an industry that is driven by consumption of digital content.

Billboard also brings a brand new chart to the mix – R&B Songs – specifically catering to pure R&B (non-rap) for such artists as John Legend and Frank Ocean.

Digital download sales are tracked by Nielsen Soundscan and streaming activity is measured by Nielsen BDS (Broadcast Data Systems) from services as Spotify, Rhapsody, Slacker, Pandora among others.

Further Reading: Great commentary here from Splice Today.

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About the Author

owns and operates Emerging Artists Entertainment Marketing & Consulting, LLC - a company devoted to cultivating aspiring music artists, He is also the head of Hession Entertainment Group, LLC (artist management) and the Music Industry Liaison for the artist discovery site, TalentWatch ( He has over 25 years experience in the music business as a performer, composer, producer and artist manager. Hugh holds a BA in Marketing and is a professional member of NARIP and a voting member of The Recording Academy. He often speaks at seminars and workshops on artist development.

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