I heard a very interesting piece on CBC’s Q with Tom Power about the history of Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart. From jukeboxes to streaming: A brief history of the Billboard Hot 100 Chart.
But beyond the history, do charts matter? Do they influence the choices of music consumers?
Given that “For a younger artist who’s developing, it can be career-changing to get on the chart early on” – Matt McNeal, Dreamville Records – its seems clear that charts do matter.
I think the most telling comment in this Rolling Stone article speaks to the relationship between consumers, music gate keepers and the charts.
” Most “customers” don’t invest much time in hunting for music; songs are filtered for them ahead of time by an assortment of gatekeepers at labels, radio, streaming services, TV shows and movie studios. And in the streaming age, with far more music available than anyone could consume, those gatekeepers are more dependent on ways of aggregating popularity information – i.e., charts – than ever.”
So the loop goes from a catchy tune that goes viral creating more “air play” – You Tube, radio, Spotify, Apple Music etc. – and now its climbing the charts. Seems a bit artificial to me. I don’t like that this gives very limited exposure to new artists. I’d like to see more of the approach / platform that Feedbands has.
For a bit older perspective on the relevance of Billboard’s album chart, check out “Why the Industry Must Kill the Album Chart“