Sunday, December 27, 2009

Follow the Charts!

Those of you viewing Vertigo Shtick via its home page (still undergoing some startup fine tuning) may have noticed the handy lists in the left sidebar, which display a quick view of the current top ten spots on several Billboard charts I've selected as particularly relevant to our work and concerns here on this blog. These would be, namely, the following five:
  • The Billboard Hot 100
    • When a song is said to have hit "#1," the ranking in question generally comes from this chart, sort of the "Granddaddy of Them All" in the world of popular music singles charts. Rankings are calculated based primarily on radio airplay and sales (see below for more), although there are a number of other minor factors that occasionally come into play, such as streaming. 
  • The Billboard 200
    • This is the other main music industry chart, the Billboard 200 ranks the highest-selling music albums and EPs in the U.S. Based solely on sales (digital and retail), this is still the most accurate of the charts, even if today's singles-centric pop music scene does render it a bit less relevant in determining the present state of pop music. 
  • Billboard Radio Songs (aka The Hot 100 Airplay)
    • One of the two component charts that largely make up the Hot 100, this chart ranks singles of all genres by radio airplay audience impressions, a vague term for a calculation of the number of times a song is played relative to the audience size of the station playing it (measured by Nielsen BDS, similar to the way television ratings are compiled).
  • Billboard Digital Songs (aka Hot Digital Songs)
    • The other of the two component charts that largely make up the Hot 100, this chart ranks the top downloaded songs from all genres (that is, legally purchased and downloaded from iTunes, Amazon, etc.) from sales data compiled by Nielsen SoundScan.
  • Billboard Pop Songs
    • This chart means little, but rather serves as a fancy way of detailing the Radio Songs down from "all genres" to just what Billboard calls "mainstream Top 40 radio airplay," in other words a calculation based on 132 "Top 40 Mainstream" radio stations and their listener data (audience size). Basically it tells you what KIIS-FM, Z100 and other major Clear Channel-owned Top 40 stations are playing. I keep this up mainly to help defend my negative opinion of Clear Channel, when such defense becomes convenient.

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