Since Billboard published its first music chart in 1940, music fans have turned to the influential entertainment brand to find out what’s currently popular. Through their recent partnership with Twitter, however, Billboard is taking the idea of “currently” to a whole new level.
Billboard is now aiming to redefine how music fans interact with and influence popular content. They’re ranking the most popular songs being shared on Twitter in the U.S. and then sharing their findings on several new “real-time” charts: Billboard Twitter Trending 140, Billboard Twitter Emerging Artists and the weekly Billboard Twitter Top Tracks.
So what exactly do these new charts rank?
The Billboard Twitter Trending 140 chart offers a summary of all the songs that are being talked about in real-time on Twitter. This list is measured by acceleration during the past hour, but it can also be filtered to show readers the most shared tracks from the past 24 hours. A weekly summary of the chart is then published online via Billboard.com and in print through Billboard.
The Billboard Twitter Emerging Artists chart measures the sharing of songs by artists that are “on the rise” — i.e., artists without a Billboard top 50-peaking song on the Hot 100 and fewer than 50,000 Twitter followers. This list is based on sharing over the past 24 hours, and like the Trending 140 chart, a weekly recap will also be published online and in print.
Both the Trending 140 and Emerging Artists charts are updated on a minute-by-minute basis, with chart updates available to music fans via Billboard.com, Billboard’s Twitter account (<@Billboard), Twitter’s own music account (@TwitterMusic) and Twitter’s media blog.
For a tweet to influence the real-time charts, it must include one or more of the following:
- A link to a song via a music-listening platform, such as Spotify, Vevo or iTunes.
- A “track sharing notation,” such as the hashtags “#nowplaying” or “#np,” along with a song title and the artist’s name.
- Any of several terms associated with songs and song playing, such as “music,” “song,” “track” and “listen.”
By simply measuring data that was already being shared on Twitter, Billboard is now able to offer fans up-to-the-minute analysis of what’s popular in music. But how will fans respond to their newfound ability to influence the previously sales-and-stream-driven charts without emptying their wallets or hitting repeat again and again?
Perhaps even more importantly, now that musicians know that earning the distinction of being a “Billboard chart-topping artist” is just one well-organized social media campaign away, how will they respond?
A quick glance at the current top 10 on the Trending 140 chart reveals a litany of familiar names — Maroon 5, Lana Del Rey, Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea — implying that that chart is thus far simply reflecting the music that can already be found on the Hot 100. Anyone outside the mainstream music bubble will have a tough time competing with the massive social media followings of these artists, who are frequently backed by major labels and their teams of social media professionals.
However, the Emerging Artists chart features a far more diverse mix of tracks by artists spanning across multiple genres and levels of success, from the relatively unknown (Louie V. Gutta) to the critically acclaimed (Spoon). This wide-open arena could offer up-and-coming artists the perfect opportunity to harness the power of their online fan bases to gain wider exposure at a minimum marketing cost.
It’s still too early to tell whether artists will take advantage of this opportunity in any structured fashion — i.e., “Tweet my new song from 3-4 pm to help me crack the Billboard #EmergingArtists chart!”
For now, fans can relish the fact that not only do they have the power to share a persistent earworm with their followers by tweeting about it; they can also help launch their favorite artists onto the Billboard charts!
As Co-Founder and Lead Writer/Editor for LA Music Blog, a Los Angeles-based music news and review website, Kristin Houser’s life revolves around music and technology. She has been an avid fan of music ever since discovering her parents’ vinyl collection while still in elementary school, and she is fascinated by all the ways technology allows her to discover new music and share it with the world. She currently manages a staff of fifteen writers and contributors at LA Music Blog, and when she isn’t scouring the internet for her latest musical obsession, Kristin frequents Los Angeles’ many music venues where she can usually be found hovering near the front of house engineer while jotting down set lists in her smart phone. She is very pleased to share her latest music obsessions and all the ways technology allows her to discover and enjoy music with iQ by Intel’s audience.