Billboard has been the way the music industry tracks what’s popular since 1936. The Billboard Hot 100 is generally considered the gold standard for what’s the most popular song in the United States, but there are also charts for subgenres: country, rap, rock, etc. The Hot 100 chart has been tracking digital downloads and streaming stats, but that 21st century attitude didn’t apply to genre charts.
Today, Billboard applied digital data to five genre charts: country, rap, rock, Latin and R&B. Before, those charts were basically 100% based on radio, which isn’t the primary way that young people consume music anymore. After adding Nielsen data from Spotify, Rhapsody, Xbox Music and Rdio, the charts should be much more accurate. But not everybody is happy. Some are worried about crossover artists stealing spots from true genre artists. Others are just upset that Taylor Swift seems to be the most direct beneficiary. Regardless of whether Rihanna actually deserves the #1 spot on the R&B chart, this is a huge improvement for Billboard because any music chart that doesn’t include digital sales and streaming in 2012 is obsolete.
Billboard explains their changes here.
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