What’s impossible to you? Scaling and reaching the summit of the highest peak on earth, Mount Everest? Diving deep in the vast darkness and unknown of the ocean’s deepest crater? Or, maybe it’s just to hear your record on your local radio station? I know for me, personally a summit of my own is to hear three special syllables - no...not those syllables. This one: Num - ber One. Specifically, "You hit number 1 on the Billboard Top 200."
I still get a little nostalgic when I think back to the cast of "That thing you do", to that scene where Liv Tyler’s character is listening to her transistor radio, mailing a postage up pop’s the band’s hit song "That thing you do" on their local PA radio station.It’s from that point that we begin the journey of the rise and fall of the "One hit Wonders", but as we continue with them on their journey, they reach...something that may have seemed impossible to four guys from Eerie,PA they hit #1 on the Billboard Top 100.
No, this piece is not about the make ups and break ups of band life, although, I’ll have to keep that one in mind in the future.
It’s about overcoming the impossible or at least the seemingly impossible for those of you just starting out. At Musik !D TV we would like to close the gap of what you may feel is unobtainable, and let’s break down what it takes to have a Billboard #1.
Billboard was founded in 1894 by William Donaldson and James Hennegan as a trade publication for bill posters. Billboard is an American entertainment media brand owned by Prometheus Global Media. Initially, it covered the advertising and bill posting industry and was called Billboard Advertising. It publishes pieces involving news, video, opinion, reviews, events, and style. It is also known for its music charts, including the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard 200, tracking the most popular singles and albums in different genres.
Now we know where Billboard came from...I honestly had no idea it dated that far back..now let’s jump to where the Billboard Hot 100 came from.
Prior to the creation of the Hot 100, Billboard published four singles charts: "Best Sellers in Stores", "Most Played by Jockeys","Most Played in Jukeboxes" and "The Top 100". These charts, which ranged from 20 to 100 slots, were phased out at different times between 1957 and 1958. Though technically not part of the Hot 100 chart history, their data are included for computational purposes, and to avoid unenlightening or misleading characterizations. All items listed below are from the Hot 100 era, unless otherwise noted (pre-Hot 100 charts).Source
This list spans the period from the issue dated January 1, 1955 to present. The Billboard Hot 100 began with the issue dated August 4, 1958, and is currently the standard popular music chart in the United States. Source
So who decides who charts on the Billboard Top 100 and 200?
Billboard publishes a host of charts that are individually or collectively based on key fan interactions with music, including album sales and downloads, track downloads, radio airplay and touring as well as streaming and social interactions on Facebook, Twitter, Vevo, Youtube, Spotify and other popular online destinations for music. These measurements are tracked year-round by Billboard and its data partners, including Nielsen BDS, Nielsen SoundScan and Next Big Sound. In order for artists and title to chart in Billboard, they must be among the higher ranked performers among the specific metric used to compile the chart. Specific methodologies can be found on each chart page on billboard.com and on the Chart Legend reference page on billboard.biz. Source
Billboard initially started tracking downloads in 2003 with the Hot Digital Tracks chart. This was the first major overhaul of the Hot 100’s chart formula since December 1998.
In the issue dated August 11, 2007, Billboard began incorporating weekly data from streaming media and on-demand services into the Hot 100. The first two major companies to provide their statistics to Nielsen BDS on a weekly basis were AOL Music and Yahoo! Music. On March 24, 2012, Billboard premiered its On-Demand Songs chart, and its data was incorporated into the equation that compiles the Hot 100. In February 2013, U.S. views for a song on YouTube were added to the Hot 100 formula. "Harlem Shake" was the first song to reach number one after the changes were made. The Hot 100 formula starting 2013 generally incorporates sales (35-45%), airplay (30-40%) and streaming (20-30%), and the precise percentage can change from week to week. Source
Streaming, however, introduced a host of new variables, and two years ago Nielsen, which now owns SoundScan, introduced sweeping changes in an attempt to account for the arrival of services like Spotify, Google Music and Apple Music.Source
I know I’m throwing a lot of info your way but to help keep you from drowing in a sea of information, let’s take a look at the Ocean.
- No.. not that ocean..Frank Ocean. Specifically in terms of his release Blonde, late last year.
In a story published from the LA Times it reads:
"Ocean sold 232,000 digital-album downloads of "Blonde," according to Nielsen Music. The album then accrued 65 million streams of its individual tracks.
In recent years the task of tabulating a record’s success and popularity has grown more\ complicated. What used to be an album sale is now an "equivalent album sale."
Let’s now compare Ocean’s release with everyone’s favorite Canadian. I’m speaking OVO himself: Drake.
The year’s biggest album, Drake’s "Views," premiered exclusively through Apple Music and iTunes - but, only after the artist played it in full on his OVO Music radio show on Apple’s Beats 1 radio platform. At the end of its first week, "Views" had sold over 850,000 digital albums and generated nearly 250 million audio streams, according to BuzzAngle.
The album, which spent much of the summer at No. 1, debuted on the Billboard chart with what Nielsen said was 852,000 albums sold and 1.04 million equivalent album sales.
Comparing Drake’s release with Ocean, Ocean’s competing release strategy was prompted by his first new music in four years. Also notably absent from the overall calculations from Nielsen and BuzzAngle are the billions of YouTube plays, which are hard to quantify due to the volume of fan-made clips that feature incidental use of hot songs.
The result is a formula far more complicated than a decade ago, when labels measured success based on the volume of downloads, discs and records sold.
Are you starting to seeing the picture a little clearer on what it takes to have a Billboard #1? The Billboard chart is a summit, that’s why you’ll hear radio dj’s talk about an artist song climbing the charts week after week. It’s not easy. But it’s not impossible.
And if you’re dream is to see your name in black and white in the most prestigious music ranking publication in the land, next to those special three syllables - Num - ber one, then go make it happen. We’ll see you at the top.