It had to happen sooner or later. Billboard Magazine, the unofficial bible of the music industry, has finally incorporated YouTube viewership into the metrics that makes up their chart rankings. This means that each chart not only reflects digital and physical sales (once the only metric reliable enough), but also terrestrial radio airplay and digital streaming, which you have to admit seems to be a potent combination that at least theoretically makes up most of the modern measurements that can accurately indicate the popularity of a song.
Billboard’s YouTube data is limited to only official videos from the artists and labels, but Vevo clips and user-generated clips that use the “authorized audio” can also be included. Authorized audio means that the video producer has permission to use the audio in their video. If a user generated video has a commercial at its front, chances are good that it’s been authorized. The decision seems to be already having an effect on the Billboard charts. “Harlem Shake” by Baauer, which went viral on YouTube, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Massive views on YouTube also helped Rihanna’s “Stay” jump from 57th place last week to third place in the latest chart.
You’ve got to hand it to Billboard in that they’ve finally recognized the influence YouTube now has in our daily musical lives. It’s the #1 music discovery portal online (number 2 overall after radio), and a huge part of our current music distribution network. Incorporating it into the charts can only bring a more accurate reading of the popularity of a song.
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