In this day and age, YouTube is potentially more influential than any other medium in turning a song from one which no one has ever heard into a hit of epic proportions. Thankfully the music industry has realized this unsavory (at least to them) fact.
Once upon a time the music charts were made up of one thing and one thing alone: How many physical copies of a song sold in record stores. Now, with the way people consume music, and other types of content for that matter, having changed, so has the methodology behind the charts.
Several years ago digital downloads were added to the mix, as the industry realized it was fighting a losing battle against people buying digital rather than physical copies. Then came streaming services such as Spotify, which now also contribute to the charts.
This week saw YouTube added to the burgeoning list of sources used to determine whether a song is a hit or not.
It’s being reported that Billboard and YouTube have been discussing such a move for several years, with the monumental rise of Harlem Shake forcing a decision to be made quickly.
Harlem Shake is expected to top the Hot 100 chart this week mainly based on its popularity on YouTube. This suggests that Gangnam Style, last year’s biggest viral video hit, would have been number one for several weeks, if not months.
Billboard hasn’t stated how much influence YouTube is going to have on the charts, but it’s likely that one physical or digital sale will be the equivalent of thousands of video views. Which makes sense, especially in order to stop the system being rigged.
Billboard has been compiling the U.S. music charts for 55 years, so this is an exciting step in its evolution. Exciting though surely inevitable and also very much needed in order to keep the charts fresh and relevant.
Now I’m off to watch some more music videos on YouTube knowing that each view is actually registering towards measurable success.
[Via The New York Times]