Billboard Is F*cking Up: The Hot 100 Now Includes Streaming Data & Digital Downloads
Billboard unveils new methodology today for the long-standing Hot Country Songs, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Hot Latin Songs charts. Each receive a major consumer-influenced face-lift, as digital download sales (tracked by Nielsen SoundScan) and streaming data (tracked by Nielsen BDS from such services as Spotify, Muve, Slacker, Rhapsody, Rdio and Xbox Music, among others) will now be factored into the 50-position rankings, along with existing radio airplay data monitored by Nielsen BDS. The makeovers will enable these charts to match the methodology applied to Billboard’s signature all-genre songs ranking, the Billboard Hot 100.
Concurrently, Hot Rock Songs, which launched as an airplay-only chart in 2009, and Rap Songs, in existence as a radio survey since 1989, will also include digital download sales and streaming data for the first time.
In addition, Billboard is launching a new chart, R&B Songs, which will incorporate the same airplay/sales/streaming hybrid formula to rank the week’s top R&B-only (non-rap) titles. R&B Songs and Rap Songs will serve as 25-position distillations of the overall Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, highlighting the differences between pure R&B and rap titles in the overall, wide-ranging R&B/hip-hop field.
The immediate beneficiaries of this week’s methodology change are Taylor Swift, Rihanna and Mumford & Sons.
Swift, who holds down the top two slots on Hot Country Songs with “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “Red.” Her new country radio single “Begin Again” jumps 37-10. The pop-crossover No. 1 title ranks at No. 36 on Country Airplay (but also gets points associated with its pop-crossover play) and No. 1 on Country Digital Songs, while “Red” is absent from the Country Airplay list, but ranks No. 2 on Country Digital Songs. “Begin Again” appears at No. 29 on Country Airplay and No. 3 on Country Digital Songs.
Rihanna shuffles from No. 66 under the former Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs methodology all the way to No. 1 with “Diamonds,” aided by crossover pop airplay of the track as well as strong digital sales (No. 1 on R&B/Hip-Hop Digital Songs). “Diamonds” also tops the inaugural R&B Songs tally. On Rap Songs, Psy soars 20-1 with his current No. 2 Hot 100 hit “Gangnam Style.”
While fun. claims the No. 1 slot on Hot Rock Songs with its former Alternative No. 1 and current Hot 100 top 10 hit “Some Nights,” Mumford & Sons ride increased curiosity about their new album “Babel” to overwhelming streaming activity, placing all 12 songs from the set (as well as two others from the album’s deluxe version) on the chart. All but first single “I Will Wait” (No. 4) chart with almost all points attributed to streaming; even “Wait,” which rises to No. 1 on Alternative this week, boasts 53% of its points from streaming.
On Hot Latin Songs, Wisin & Yandel move to No. 1 with “Algo Me Gusta de Ti,” featuring Chris Brown and T-Pain, matching its Latin Airplay rank. The track is No. 3 on Latin Digital Songs.
Billboard has been charting the popularity of R&B songs since 1942, with numerous changes in methodology implemented through the years. The most recent formula sports an almost-exclusive reliance on radio airplay. The Hot Country Songs chart similarly dates to 1944 and has also undergone multiple changes in its formula, with the most recent incarnation being one fueled solely by radio airplay since the advent of BDS data in 1990.
Hot Latin Songs, meanwhile, has been based solely on radio airplay since its launch in 1986. In its new incarnation, only predominantly Spanish-language titles will appear on the chart. Titles mostly sung in English, which often receive Latin airplay and appear on the radio-based chart, are no longer eligible for inclusion. Dual-language songs (those recorded independently in both Spanish and English) will have only their Spanish-language airplay, sales and estimated streaming factored into their Hot Latin Songs rankings (see story, page 13).
Radio charts for each of the aforementioned rankings will be spun off and live in Billboard’s print and/or online properties, each keeping its history from its first date utilizing BDS data: Rap Airplay (1989), Country Airplay (1990), R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay (1992), Latin Airplay (1994) and Rock Airplay (2009). Digital Songs charts for each genre, which have been in existence since 2010, will continue to be represented as separate rankings as well.
The move to the Hot 100-based formula will ensure that the top-ranked country, R&B/hip-hop, Latin and rock titles each week will be the top titles listed on each genre’s songs ranking. This will be in line with how the Billboard 200 albums chart aligns with the albums charts for each corresponding genre. Because of the switch to new methodology, the week-to-week movements on the charts for some songs (in either direction) could be quite dramatic.
Until now, only country stations contributed to the Hot Country Songs chart, or R&B/hip-hop stations to Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs; the same held true for Latin and rock. The new methodology, which will utilize the Hot 100’s formula of incorporating airplay from more than 1,200 stations of all genres monitored by BDS, will reward crossover titles receiving airplay on a multitude of formats. With digital download sales and streaming data measuring popularity on the most inclusive scale possible, it is only just the radio portion of Billboard chart calculations that includes airplay from the entire spectrum of monitored formats.