Fans React as Billboard Changes Charts Formula

From Rolling Stone:

In an attempt to present more accurate data, Billboard recently shook up its rock, country, hip-hop and Latin charts, resulting in broad pop stars such as Taylor Swift, Rihanna and Psy suddenly having more juice than their competitors. Fans of artists such as Carrie Underwood and Beyoncé did not take the news well: “Shame on you, Billboard!” wrote one commenter on the influential music-business magazine’s website. “These are not the pop charts and this completely skews the formula to favor pop crossover hits.”

Billboard executives defend the new charts – which, as of last week, use Internet criteria such as download sales and streaming plays from Spotify, Rhapsody and others as well as traditional radio spins – as a broader picture of what makes a hit. “Are those of you upset about this rule change suggesting that what fans are streaming on Spotify or buying at iTunes doesn’t count?” asked Bill Werde, the magazine’s editorial director, via Tumblr. “Fans have the power today – more than they have ever had in the history of the recorded music business – and these chart changes honor that reality, above all else.”

Music-business veterans observed that the changes weren’t the first time Billboard has adjusted its charts to reflect music fans’ consumption behaviors. “Fifty years ago, we were tracking jukebox selections and 45 sales. Now we have YouTube videos and Pandora and satellite radio – there’s a lot of things,” says Mike Brophey, program director of the Boston country station WKLB. “It tends to be more accurate.”

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