Billboard is a weekly American magazine devoted to the music industry. It maintains several internationally recognized music charts that track the most popular songs or albums in various categories on a weekly basis. Its most famous chart, the "Hot 100" survey, ranks the top 100 songs regardless of genre and is frequently used as the standard measure for ranking songs in the United States. The "Billboard 200" survey is the corresponding chart for album sales.
When founded in 1894, Billboard magazine was originally concerned with carnival entertainment, but music coverage grew to the point that its earlier subjects were spun off into a separate journal in the 1950s.
On January 4, 1936 Billboard magazine published its first music hit parade and on July 20, 1940 the first Music Popularity Chart was calculated. Since 1958 the Hot 100 has been published, combining single sales and radio airplay.
For many years, the weekly syndicated radio program American Top 40, hosted by Casey Kasem(1970 to August 1988 and the middle of 1998 to 2004) and Shadoe Stevens(August 1988 to Feb. 1994), played the top 40 songs on that Billboard chart in reverse order; in 2004, Kasem was replaced with American Idol host Ryan Seacrest.
Billboard magazine covers every aspect of the entertainment business, from DVDs to video cassette sales to internet music downloads. It features news stories and opinion articles. For the most part, Billboard is intended for music professionals, such as record label executives and DJs. It is generally not intended for the general public, though it can occasionally be found at bookstores. But despite their extensive coverage of the entertainment business, they are best known for their charts.
Methodology of Its Charts
Currently, Billboard uses a system called Nielsen Soundscan to track sales of singles as well as different genres of albums. Essentially, it's a system that registers sales when the album or single is purchased at the cash register of SoundScan-enabled stores. Billboard also uses a system called Broadcast Data Systems or BDS, which they own as a subsidiary, to track radio airplay. Essentially, each song has something like a fingerprint. When it is played on a radio station that is contracted to use BDS, a detection is made. These detections are added it up every week among all radio stations to determine airplay points.
Each of Billboard's many charts use this basic formula. What separates the charts is what stations or stores each chart uses. Each genre's department at Billboard is headed up by chart managers, who makes these determinations. Sometimes, what's ok on one chart is not ok on another chart. The most famous example of this was the song "Into the Groove" by Madonna. It was initially only available as a 12 inch single. At the time, this was not acceptable to the managers of the Hot 100 chart. So even though the song got extensive airplay, it was not allowed to chart on the Hot 100. However, the R and B singles chart did not have this restriction, so "Into the Groove" actually charted on the R and B singles chart.
For many years, a song had to be commercially available as a single to be considered for any of Billboard's charts. At the time, instead of using SoundScan or BDS, Billboard obtained its data from manual reports filled out by radio stations and stores. In 1990, the country singles chart was the first chart to use SoundScan and BBS. They were followed by the Hot 100 and the R and B chart in 1991. Today, all of Billboard's charts use this technology. Currently, it's possible for an album track to chart without the help of commercial sales.
A Variety of Charts
Currently, Billboard has many, many different charts with the Hot 100 and Billboard 200 just being the most famous. Billboard also has charts for the following music styles: country, bluegrass, jazz, classical, R and B, rap, electronic, latin, christian music and even for ringtones for cell phones. The size of these charts varies from 10 positions up to 75.
Billboard is owned by the Dutch conglomerate VNU.
- Billboard web site (http://www.billboard.com/billboard/index.jsp)