Itunes, Billboard, and the marginalization of black music and black audiences in America

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So today Billboard changed their policy to allow digital music sales to count on previously airplay-driven genre charts. The problem with this is that there is no way of separating by demographics like there is for radio. The radio listener chooses the station that best fits their tastes, whereas anyone might buy from Itunes. Further compounding the problem is that that isn't even true -- economically privileged listeners, who are more likely to be white, are much more likely to purchase digital music.

The introduction of Itunes data to the Billboard Hot 100 in 2005 has had the effect of slowly but surely pushing music favored by black audiences off the pop charts and top 40 (and even rhythmic) radio, to the point where there are now very few songs that cross over from urban radio to other formats. Over the past year or so, there have been only a few songs popular on the r&b charts that cross over into the top 40 at any given time, usually below the top 10 (even this year's huge rap hits "The Motto" and "Mercy" got stuck in the teens on the big chart), while most of urban radio's big songs get stuck in the 30-100 range of the Hot 100. This has also led to the trend of black music stars like Nicki Minaj and Usher creating entirely different singles for different radio formats, with pop songs for white radio and r&b or rap songs for black radio.

Billboard's new changes potentially strike an even bigger blow to black audiences being able to determine their own hits. On this week's r&b chart, with the changes enacted, Rihanna's decidedly pop (and, it should be noted, terrible) "Diamonds" jumps from #61 to #1, pushing Miguel's decidedly r&b (and brilliant) "Adorn" out of the top spot. Urban radio stations may have lost one of their last impetuses left not to play pop music with white-leaning audiences.

There's even more to this but I don't have time to explain every last factor at work right this second. Here's what's been said on the rolling r&b thread:

um... some dude... wtf is going on with the R&B chart? why is Rihanna's "Diamonds" suddenly #1?

― (whose paintings looked like (pink) vaginas) (The Brainwasher), Thursday, October 11, 2012 9:14 AM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

ha i was just about to come to this thread to gripe about that

basically the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart has tradtionally been mostly airplay + physical single sales, so if a nominal R&B song (by, say, Rihanna) did well on iTunes and pop radio but not actual R&B stations, it wouldn't make much of an impact on the R&B chart. but as of this week, iTunes is a factor on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop like it has been on the Hot 100 for years, so now suddenly "Diamonds" is #1, and there's now a R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart which is basically what the main chart used to be, and on that "Adorn" is #1 and "Diamonds is #61.

this is massively fuck up whatever confidence R&B stations and labels had left to not cater to pop crossover imo. horrible move by Billboard.

― some dude, Thursday, October 11, 2012 9:57 AM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

And now Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs is 50 deep instead of 100.

25-deep R&B Songs chart now, too.

― Andy K, Thursday, October 11, 2012 10:20 AM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

R&B Songs and Rap Songs will serve as 25-position distillations of the overall Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, highlighting the differences between pure R&B and rap titles in the overall, wide-ranging R&B/hip-hop field.

Eleven of the 25 songs on R&B Songs feature rappers, so "pure R&B" must mean songs with an R&B artist as only or lead voice.

― Andy K, Thursday, October 11, 2012 10:34 AM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Make that 10, not 11.

― Andy K, Thursday, October 11, 2012 10:34 AM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

― Cap'n Hug-a-Thug (The Reverend), Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:21 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

excuse me while I find a corner to curl up into the fetal position and cry in

― Cap'n Hug-a-Thug (The Reverend), Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:22 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

rev's "Itunes destroyed Black American pop music" rant on twitter a few months ago was so righteous that i saved it in a doc, tempted to just post it right now

― some dude, Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:34 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

post it! i missed it!

― lex pretend, Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:36 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

i'd have to clean it up and re-order it for it to make sense, but here's the short version he put on tumblr: http://reverenddollars.tumblr.com/post/24446685357/positing-not-claiming

― some dude, Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:38 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

ha i saw that, think i favourited it somewhere

― lex pretend, Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:42 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I've gone on at least a couple such extended twitter rants. Been meaning to start a thread on the subject here and I think I will now. Please post whatever you saved.

― Cap'n Hug-a-Thug (The Reverend), Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:43 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

oh wow, part of my gripe about this was going to be that the Country charts didn't get the same treatment but they did -- Taylor Swift leaps from #21 to #1 on the revamped download-heavy Country chart. fucking Billboard, putting nails in the coffin of terrestrial radio formats' ability to make hits.

― some dude, Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:45 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

would quite like to hear about the role itunes is playing in this - that's not in the tumblr & i don't really know

― lex pretend, Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:46 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Wonder if (the very good, all-R&B) Two Eleven has a shot at the Top Ten of the Billboard 200. "Put It Down": 70-76-72 last three weeks on Hot 100 and 16-5-3 last three weeks on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop. Doesn't really bode well.

― Andy K, Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:48 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

2 columns that chris molanphy and i wrote about r&b's hot 100 decline that get into how itunes changed things:

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/music/2011/05/chris_brown_look_at_me_now_hot_100.php

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/music/2012/07/sales_slump_usher_chris_brown.php

― some dude, Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:51 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

i read both of those at the time - they were great and i think i may have linked one in my independent r&b piece - but what is it about itunes that means it's an inefficient driver of r&b? it's so geared towards casual/spontaneous consumption that it inherently privileges pop?

― lex pretend, Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:54 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

whereas radio-driven r&b is dependent on gatekeepers to an extent?

― lex pretend, Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:54 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

those might be factors but the more simple truth is just that demographically speaking the songs and artists that get chart boosts from iTunes sales, particularly single sales, strongly skew pop and not urban

― some dude, Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:57 PM Bookmark

Cap'n Hug-a-Thug (The Reverend), Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:18 (2 years ago) Permalink

so iTunes ID3 genre tags DO matter lol

stop swearing and start windmilling (Shakey Mo Collier), Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:19 (2 years ago) Permalink

i'm quite shocked by this. i didn't know people still cared about billboard charts

frogbs, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:19 (2 years ago) Permalink

It's not the charts themselves that I care about so much as how they reflect and drive cultural changes.

Cap'n Hug-a-Thug (The Reverend), Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:21 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah the charts are bullshit but they have real ramifications in terms of what gets bankrolled

stop swearing and start windmilling (Shakey Mo Collier), Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:22 (2 years ago) Permalink

Oh and Psy has been placed on top of the rap charts, because obv "Gangnam Style" is what's hot in the streets right now.

Cap'n Hug-a-Thug (The Reverend), Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:31 (2 years ago) Permalink

If you have any interest in this phenomenon, please read the Molanphy articles.

Cap'n Hug-a-Thug (The Reverend), Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:33 (2 years ago) Permalink

another good reason to hate apple

We demand justice: who murdered Chanel? (Matt P), Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:34 (2 years ago) Permalink

Are there charts for most genres? And did they change too?

Algerian Goalkeeper, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:40 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah the charts are bullshit but they have real ramifications in terms of what gets bankrolled

so does a list of 'what music is actually being bought'

iatee, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:41 (2 years ago) Permalink

This is really interesting, Rev. We've never really had high-stakes multiple charts and the US system has always seemed incredibly complicated to me, but then we're a million times smaller so it's a different proposition, I guess.

emil.y, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:43 (2 years ago) Permalink

well, they used to be lists of what music is actually being played and requested on the radio, too. but however they combine these different statistics always seems to heavily favor sales over overplay. (xpost)

some dude, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:44 (2 years ago) Permalink

I for one never liked the idea of airplay contributing to the charts here in the UK and I'm glad it remains sales based.

Algerian Goalkeeper, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:44 (2 years ago) Permalink

but I can see why it works better in the USA. You only ever got top 40 or oldies radio here and that was it until digital radio and 1extra.

Algerian Goalkeeper, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:45 (2 years ago) Permalink

Chris Mol@nphy wrote this column in ship's column last year:

All I'll add to the exhaustive data you offer is a hobby-horse I've been riding for a couple of years now: the need for Billboard to finally add digital-sales data to the R&B/Hip-Hop chart.

They've been resisting for years, on the (implied, not overtly stated) premise that it would ruin the character of a chart that has a long history with black-owned and oriented retailers. But with that segment (along with all brick-and-mortar music retail) at death's door anyway, the sales portion of Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs has been near-nonexistent for years, making it essentially a radio chart a la the deadly, predigital Hot 100 of 2000–05.

That's led to a problem where there's no longer a radio programmer-to-consumer-back-to-programmer feedback loop that makes for great charts. I'm sure there's a one-way influence from radio to the teen urban-music buyer who then downloads a Trey Songz MP3. But with that sale not reflected on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart, the loop ends there; programmers aren't given clear enough signals of how to reflect their most avid audience members' tastes (especially young audience).

In my ideal fantasy world, you'd be able to segment iTunes/AmazonMP3 song sales to pockets of the country that have large black populations or high urban-radio listenership, but that's probably impossible, or at least fraught. But at the very least, I think it'd be trivial for Billboard to set up a rule whereby a song eligible for R&B/Hip-Hop Songs would have to hit some kind of urban-radio threshold before their iTunes sales would count toward the chart.

the ones that I'm near most: fellow outcasts and ilxors (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:46 (2 years ago) Permalink

here's an explanation of the changes, which affect all genre charts:

http://www.billboard.com/news#/news/taylor-swift-rihanna-psy-buoyed-by-billboard-1007978552.story

the rock charts are much less affected by this than R&B or country -- for instance this week fun.'s "Some Nights" went back to #1 after falling to #8, because it had started to run its course on radio but is still selling strong on iTunes.

some dude, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:47 (2 years ago) Permalink

ok lol i spoke to soon -- Philip Philips and Train are now big on the rock charts

some dude, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:48 (2 years ago) Permalink

wtf is philip philips?

Algerian Goalkeeper, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:49 (2 years ago) Permalink

Train are now big on the rock charts

chilling words in any context

the ones that I'm near most: fellow outcasts and ilxors (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:49 (2 years ago) Permalink

also holy shit SIX Mumford & Sons songs in a row on the rock songs chart, because that was the last big album release so every song is getting bought individually on itunes

Phillip Phillips won American Idol last year

some dude, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:50 (2 years ago) Permalink

see that is bullshit with buying albums and the tracks being on a singles track

Algerian Goalkeeper, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:52 (2 years ago) Permalink

*chart

Algerian Goalkeeper, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:52 (2 years ago) Permalink

what i'm saying!

some dude, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:55 (2 years ago) Permalink

it's one thing that rihanna has the #1 R&B song now, but when her album is released she'll probably take up the whole top 5

some dude, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:55 (2 years ago) Permalink

you mentioned itunes sales in the other thread shipz - i'm guessing those are discounted albums rather than individual tracks?

apart from that and

economically privileged listeners, who are more likely to be white, are much more likely to purchase digital music

i'd be interested to know why r&b/rap/country etc might not be as digitally-driven...?

lex pretend, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:59 (2 years ago) Permalink

it's funny, you might've thought before this all happened that iTunes impacting singles charts might mean that new artists and grassroots successes that have been shut out by the radio industry might get a better shot at breaking through. instead, it feels like any song by the biggest stars is stomping out songs people love by less famous artists via the power of name recognition and fanatical fanclub followings.

some dude, Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:04 (2 years ago) Permalink

you mentioned itunes sales in the other thread shipz - i'm guessing those are discounted albums rather than individual tracks?

Not discounted albums, people buy lots of album tracks individually from popular albums all the time. A hit album is almost guaranteed to have several album tracks enter the Hot 100 on its week of release because of this.

i'd be interested to know why r&b/rap/country etc might not be as digitally-driven...?

That isn't quite true of country, but white demographics are a lot more likely to have internet in their homes than black/latinos. And even if they do, the white listener is a lot more likely to have spare $$$ to spend on digital music.

Cap'n Hug-a-Thug (The Reverend), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:04 (2 years ago) Permalink

i mean if you want to go by the stereotype that country fans are rural/poorer than the same would apply to them too

congratulations (n/a), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:07 (2 years ago) Permalink

seems pretty obv

congratulations (n/a), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:07 (2 years ago) Permalink

ok...how does that square with the boom in free rap mixtapes?

also, i don't think i realised til now how airplay-driven charts would help songs specifically popular in demographics with no spare $$$ to actually buy them in whatever format.

lex pretend, Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:07 (2 years ago) Permalink

Note that of the top 20-selling songs in the US during the first half of 2012, only two, #16 "Rack City" and #18 "The Motto" reached the top 50 of the r&b chart.

Cap'n Hug-a-Thug (The Reverend), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:07 (2 years ago) Permalink

what genre of music dominates the US singles charts now?

Algerian Goalkeeper, Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:09 (2 years ago) Permalink

i mean if you want to go by the stereotype that country fans are rural/poorer than the same would apply to them too

― congratulations (n/a), Thursday, October 11, 2012 2:07 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I don't think this is as true as one might assume? A lot of well-off suburban country listeners. Or at least country seems to do fairly well on Itunes.

Cap'n Hug-a-Thug (The Reverend), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:09 (2 years ago) Permalink

capital-p Pop -- Katy Perry, Rihanna, Gaga, Kelly Clarkson, Pink, One Direction, etc. although this year stuff like Gotye and fun. has mixed things up a bit. (xpost)

some dude, Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:10 (2 years ago) Permalink

there's also the argument that buying your favorite song on iTunes (as opposed to just listening to it on the radio, streaming it on YouTube now and again, or buying the album) is a generational habit, and so things that skew younger benefit from this -- Taylor, Rihanna etc.

some dude, Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:10 (2 years ago) Permalink

i mean it sucks because a lot of these formats had been fostering new stars and putting interesting songs at #1 lately, but you're never gonna see Miguel top the R&B chart or Eric Church top the country chart again after this

some dude, Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:11 (2 years ago) Permalink

don't forget Maroon 5

the ones that I'm near most: fellow outcasts and ilxors (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:12 (2 years ago) Permalink

interesting stuff. i don't have my head entirely around the numbers & methodologies here, but there's something about a "return to monoculture" either in real terms or as a measurement phenomenon.

there is no dana, only (goole), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:12 (2 years ago) Permalink

is the pop domination due to itunes or changing of radio playlists/genre stations changing to top 40 or just one of those things that happens?

Algerian Goalkeeper, Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:12 (2 years ago) Permalink

interesting stuff. i don't have my head entirely around the numbers & methodologies here, but there's something about a "return to monoculture" either in real terms or as a measurement phenomenon.

It's been happening on radio for a while. It's impossible to break the Rihanna-Goyte-Katy-Perry-Maroon-5 stranglehold on Clear Channel Radio. I mean, I hear "One More Night" every 45 minutes.

the ones that I'm near most: fellow outcasts and ilxors (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:15 (2 years ago) Permalink

but you're never gonna see Miguel top the R&B chart or Eric Church top the country chart again after this

to be blunt about this, it's because, even though Rihanna makes club trance, she "is R&B" (because, you know), and Taylor Swift makes pop dubstep, she "is country" (again, because, you know). right?

in a way it seems like this is a identity/identification/musicalogical problem. almost.

there is no dana, only (goole), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:16 (2 years ago) Permalink

Taylor Swift... makes pop dubstep?

The Owls of Ja Rule (DJP), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:18 (2 years ago) Permalink

p much

there is no dana, only (goole), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:18 (2 years ago) Permalink

well, it's because when five Rihanna tracks become available her fans will download them at once from iTunes.

the ones that I'm near most: fellow outcasts and ilxors (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:18 (2 years ago) Permalink

SWIFTSTEP

lex pretend, Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:19 (2 years ago) Permalink

What would an ideal modern chart system look like?

wk, Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:19 (2 years ago) Permalink

Taylor Swift... makes pop dubstep?

I'll assume you don't want to hear her latest track.

the ones that I'm near most: fellow outcasts and ilxors (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:19 (2 years ago) Permalink

What would an ideal modern chart system look like?

"Adorn" and "Springsteen" topping every chart.

the ones that I'm near most: fellow outcasts and ilxors (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:19 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah that's pretty interesting. i was surprised that Billboard let Paramore's "Still Into You" and "Ain't It Fun" dominate the Rock Songs charts for a sizeable chunk of 2013/2014, neither touched the rock airplay charts afaik and i doubt the latter was even worked to rock formats.

some dude, Thursday, 2 October 2014 23:18 (1 month ago) Permalink

i hope there's some 16 year old kid at billboard who tells them what songs "rock" or not

da croupier, Thursday, 2 October 2014 23:20 (1 month ago) Permalink

"ahhh, you guys didn't tell me Tove Lo was a girl not a BAND...Paramore is a BAND..."

da croupier, Thursday, 2 October 2014 23:21 (1 month ago) Permalink

it's hard to really think of anything as pushing the envelope anymore but it is a little jarring sometimes to put on the top 40 station and and hear all the munchies/high all the time stuff on the Tove Lo song in heavy rotation. definitely thought it was gonna be more of an alt radio thing initially.

some dude, Thursday, 2 October 2014 23:26 (1 month ago) Permalink

Its all about the Aussies. PR email I received:

After seeing the success from his recent collaboration with Australian artist Iggy Azalea, T.I. has partnered up with our client Aussie DJ duo, The Stafford Brothers and dutch singer Eva Simons on "This Girl." ...

The Stafford Brothers' ...can discuss what it’s like working with T.I., how the single came about, how Australian artists are taking over the US music charts with 5 Seconds of Summer going #1 yesterday, Iggy Azalea and now Australia’s #1 DJ duo are about to release their first US single with one of America’s biggest rappers.

The first DJs to sign to Cash Money Records,...

curmudgeon, Monday, 6 October 2014 21:02 (1 month ago) Permalink

So I remember a while back having some conversation here about how in the 90s r&b/AC crossover was the sweet spot for pop domination. I was looking through the list of AC chart #1s and noticed this: there were a bunch of AC #1s by black artists through most of the 90s, but the only ones between 1998 (when ummm "I'm Your Angel" by R. Kelly & Celine Dion topped that chart) and this year were "Bleeding Love" and a Mariah Christmas track. Interesting how as pop music became dominated by black artists in the 2000s, AC swung hard the other direction. So then the other interesting thing is that this year, after that huge drought, there have been three AC chart-toppers by black artists: "Happy", "All of Me", and "Am I Wrong". Not sure what to make of that, but it seems that particular 90s pop sweet spot may be returning?

goon kabuki (The Reverend), Friday, 10 October 2014 06:20 (1 month ago) Permalink

bobby shmurda inches into the top 10 this week thanks largely to streaming (#3 on streaming songs) and to some extent digital sales (#20 digital songs). while he's #8 on r&b/hip-hop airplay it's not enough airplay for him to have reached the all-format radio songs chart. http://www.billboard.com/articles/6281818/meghan-trainor-hot-100-tove-lo-bobby-shmurda

so basically the routes to top 10 hits for (lead) black artists so far this year:

(1) ac-ready multiformat songs ("happy," "all of me," "am i wrong")
(2) viral video streaming ("anaconda," "hot nigga," "love never felt so good," "drunk in love" to an extent)
(3) getting a huge shit-ton of urban and rhythmic airplay (#1 for several weeks on at least one but preferably both formats) so pop radio might pick it up ("loyal," "don't tell 'em," "drunk in love" to an extent)
(4) being jason derulo

dyl, Wednesday, 15 October 2014 21:01 (1 month ago) Permalink

(5) Pharrell

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 15 October 2014 21:02 (1 month ago) Permalink

see (1)

💪😈⚠️ (DJP), Wednesday, 15 October 2014 21:03 (1 month ago) Permalink

Pharrell is the Grover Cleveland of lead black airplay, dude.

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 15 October 2014 21:03 (1 month ago) Permalink

Derulo fits pretty firmly into (1) as well. He's a pop artist making pop songs that get play primarily on pop and rhythmic radio.

It's amazing how little impact urban radio has on the charts now. Without rhythmic radio airplay, most of the song's in the current top 5 on urban radio wouldn't touch the top 75 on all format radio.

Greer, Wednesday, 15 October 2014 21:22 (1 month ago) Permalink

what were the routes to top 10 hits back in the day outside "pop crossover," "popular video," "doing great on genre-specific radio" and "being a popular performer"

da croupier, Wednesday, 15 October 2014 22:45 (1 month ago) Permalink

not denying that genre radio makes less of a dent these days (lol look at the rock chart), just thinking a lot of bases are covered by that list

da croupier, Wednesday, 15 October 2014 22:46 (1 month ago) Permalink

yeah that is true, i guess the ways songs become hits have barely changed. my sense is that crossover is exceedingly rare now compared to before but idk i guess i'd have to comb thru old charts and crunch a few numbers to be sure.

dyl, Thursday, 16 October 2014 01:41 (1 month ago) Permalink

Eh, the thing is that pop radio is so narrow in what it plays now that you could almost get away with calling it genre-specific radio in its own right, but it still holds way more sway over what songs end up becoming hits than any other genre-specific radio format. No songs in 2014 are going to go top ten based solely on urban, country, or rock radio airplay. "Are You That Somebody" peaked at #6 on pop in 1998 and in 2014 it feels like pop radio would never play that song. Beyonce is nowhere to be seen nowadays on a radio format she used to routinely do well on not even 10 years ago.

Greer, Thursday, 16 October 2014 01:51 (1 month ago) Permalink

really? when I was hearing Beyonce every twenty minutes on pop radio earlier this year.

you walk on the street, grab the rock (President Keyes), Thursday, 16 October 2014 02:05 (1 month ago) Permalink

was it a top 40 station or a 'rhythmic top 40' station? "Drunk In Love" got to #13 on the former format and #1 on the latter format, so it makes a difference. the pop stations i listen to played only "Drunk" occasionally in between constant spins of "Timber" and "Counting Stars."

some dude, Thursday, 16 October 2014 02:46 (1 month ago) Permalink

I definitely agree that pop radio is super exclusive and divorced from genre radio more than before, but when we get to "I can't imagine radio playing music as awesome as it did fifteen years ago, and why aren't they playing this artist I've loved for over a decade" we're moving from noting trends to noting our age.

da croupier, Thursday, 16 October 2014 04:17 (1 month ago) Permalink

Eh that's a bastardization of my point. I mean that I couldn't imagine pop radio playing anything that *sounds* like Are You That Somebody today, not some "oh music is so much less awesome than before" observation. I can't remember the last time I heard anything that could be considered an R&B vocal performance on pop radio that wasn't by like...Justin Timberlake, despite the fact that not long ago those exact sorts of songs routinely got play there. There was a time when R&B and hip-hop artists regularly did well on pop radio formats and it wasn't that long ago. Now we're wondering what magic Jeremih used to get pop radio to actually play Don't Tell Em.

On a related note, I'm 90% sure the only rap songs to reach the top ten this year *and* also receive tons of pop radio airplay have all been by Iggy or Eminem and all of those were pretty much big pop choruses with rapped verses.

Greer, Thursday, 16 October 2014 05:46 (1 month ago) Permalink

but would a boomer r&b fan have thought aaliyah was carrying the "r&b vocal performance" torch? again, i'm not denying that pop has narrowed, i just think it's important to remember that 10-15 years IS a long time in pop, and that some of these complaints are constants.

da croupier, Thursday, 16 October 2014 06:21 (1 month ago) Permalink

i should say specifically on "are you that somebody" - i know she covered the isleys

da croupier, Thursday, 16 October 2014 06:29 (1 month ago) Permalink

Uh there is current r&b though that is successful in r&b channels that doesn't cross over so ...

deej loaf (D-40), Thursday, 16 October 2014 16:33 (1 month ago) Permalink

3 weeks pass...

starting december 4th the billboard 200 albums chart will incorporate streams from subscription services. 1500 streams = 1 album sale. 10 a la carte digital track downloads = 1 album sale. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/20/business/media/billboard-changing-the-charts-will-count-streaming-services-.html

One expected result is that albums by big pop stars — which tend to open high on the chart and then plunge after just a few weeks — should linger longer in the upper rungs. Ariana Grande’s “My Everything,” for example, which opened at No. 1 in September, was No. 36 on last week’s chart, with 10,000 sales. Under the new formula, it would have been No. 9.

will this help the admittedly awful landscape for hip-hop/r&b albums right now or just do that much more to damage it? it's looking like artists and their teams are learning how to get their singles good exposure again --meme-worthiness and youtube-based streaming in particular have helped songs ignored by pop radio achieve decent showings on the charts lately, such as "lifestyle" and shmurda. (and pop crossover, while probably rarer, is not entirely out of the question -- i have a feeling "tuesday" could be the next that pop will actually pick up significantly.) but whether this will improve the prospects for their albums seems... uncertain at best.

dyl, Wednesday, 19 November 2014 22:56 (1 week ago) Permalink

wait so 1,500 spins of "break free" = an album sale of "my everything"? this is straight-up jive.

da croupier, Wednesday, 19 November 2014 23:01 (1 week ago) Permalink

why don't we count 1,500 web comments about an outfit as an album sale

da croupier, Wednesday, 19 November 2014 23:01 (1 week ago) Permalink

10 a la carte digital track downloads = 1 album sale.

this makes even less sense ... if i buy an album digitally it 'counts' a tenth as much? wtf

deej loaf (D-40), Wednesday, 19 November 2014 23:50 (1 week ago) Permalink

It counts 10 times as much

nakh nakh nakhin on chivan's door (crüt), Wednesday, 19 November 2014 23:53 (1 week ago) Permalink

not really sure which genres it will help but unless i'm misreading things it seems like a transparent way to prop up the "album" market by pretending people are engaging with "albums" when they're not.

but it's always important to remember that billboard can't just make straightforward individual stream, album sale, airplay charts. they have to engage in these wacky metrics for an all-inclusive countdown to dignify their existence - otherwise soundscan etc could just share the raw data.

da croupier, Wednesday, 19 November 2014 23:58 (1 week ago) Permalink

jesus fucking christ

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 20 November 2014 00:03 (1 week ago) Permalink

do people care about the album charts?

TracerHandVEVO (Tracer Hand), Thursday, 20 November 2014 00:09 (1 week ago) Permalink

oh wait i misread, its 10 tracks = an album ... that's still weird

deej loaf (D-40), Thursday, 20 November 2014 00:13 (1 week ago) Permalink

xp the industry seems to care a lot, i mean we have a lot of highly anticipated albums getting pushed back to no end b/c some label people are worried about the albums not being likely to do well enough

dyl, Thursday, 20 November 2014 04:28 (1 week ago) Permalink

it's pretty crazy. there are SO many albums where people only buy/stream the one big single in significant numbers, and they already have a bazillion singles charts to measure that stuff. now those albums are going to jump up the chart too? seems like a matter of time before the next "Harlem Shake" type meme pops off and whatever random indie EP it's on that's only sold 200 copies suddenly shoots up the album chart.

nakhchi little van (some dude), Thursday, 20 November 2014 04:37 (1 week ago) Permalink

it's just downloads for the 10 tracks though right? you only download a song once

deej loaf (D-40), Thursday, 20 November 2014 04:44 (1 week ago) Permalink

SoundScan and Billboard will count 1,500 song streams from services like Spotify, Beats Music, Rdio, Rhapsody and Google Play as equivalent to an album sale. For the first time, they will also count “track equivalent albums” — a common industry yardstick of 10 downloads of individual tracks — as part of the formula for album rankings on the Billboard 200.

I can just, like, YOLO with Uber (bernard snowy), Thursday, 20 November 2014 04:47 (1 week ago) Permalink

the other big winner would seem to be albums full of short songs/interludes/skits? #hiphopconspiracy

I can just, like, YOLO with Uber (bernard snowy), Thursday, 20 November 2014 04:52 (1 week ago) Permalink

I've always understood Billboard as functioning as a way to demonstrate what's popular and being listened to a lot. So introducing streaming made some sense to me for the Hot 100. But this just seems to go against that. So if people don't really care for an album enough to buy it, but they do buy the one big single from it, every 10 of those purchases gets treated like an album purchase? This only obscures the shrinking market for album sales and lack of interest in albums, it doesn't actually fix the problem of no one buying albums.

Greer, Thursday, 20 November 2014 04:53 (1 week ago) Permalink

a digital purchase/play of Donuts or Double Nickels counts fourfold lol

I can just, like, YOLO with Uber (bernard snowy), Thursday, 20 November 2014 04:54 (1 week ago) Permalink

spotify streams take Dilla to #1 in 2016 after America legalizes Weed #markmywords

I can just, like, YOLO with Uber (bernard snowy), Thursday, 20 November 2014 04:56 (1 week ago) Permalink

billboard should retroactively award flo rida four number 1 albums

J0rdan S., Thursday, 20 November 2014 04:57 (1 week ago) Permalink

heh

I can just, like, YOLO with Uber (bernard snowy), Thursday, 20 November 2014 05:01 (1 week ago) Permalink

typical number of streams in a week for a big hit song: 3 million via subscription services + 7-8 million via youtube
typical sales in a week for a big hit song: 150,000

so an album with only one big hit on it would only have like 2-3 thousand weekly 'copies' added to the itunes/retail sales tally... unless youtube is also incorporated in which case it would add about 6-7 thousand. that's obviously not trivial in an industry where albums by artists with actual hits are now routinely debuting with less than 50k in sales and current albums are often selling less than 10 thousand weekly, but not enormously earth-shattering either? idk.

i wouldn't be surprised to see some annoyingly long runs at the top and fewer albums debuting at #1. and 'albums artists' not doing as well as before, lol.

dyl, Thursday, 20 November 2014 06:27 (1 week ago) Permalink

I keep waiting for a mention of disposable income (people's lack thereof) in discussions about The Way We Consume Music Now and it never comes

katherine, Thursday, 20 November 2014 18:50 (1 week ago) Permalink

^otm

Neil Yup (Drugs A. Money), Saturday, 22 November 2014 10:00 (5 days ago) Permalink

there was some talk about this and a rather astute comment about access to credit upthread but I agree it is horribly underdiscussed

I Love Makonnen: New Answers (The Reverend), Saturday, 22 November 2014 11:48 (5 days ago) Permalink

I'm not sure the level of disposable income has shifted that radically but the competition for that income has definitely increased. Teenagers spending, conservatively, $50 a month on phone contracts and maybe $500 - $1000 a year on new tech aren't going to have as much cash burning a hole in their pockets.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Saturday, 22 November 2014 12:12 (5 days ago) Permalink

i really have no idea how young pop fans - the ones who actually buy music to support the artist, tickets to shows etc - afford it

lex pretend, Saturday, 22 November 2014 19:48 (5 days ago) Permalink

Selling plasma

ILoveMeconium (President Keyes), Saturday, 22 November 2014 20:25 (5 days ago) Permalink

Part-time job at Hot Dog on a Stick and living with their parents?

put your money where the maracas are (how's life), Saturday, 22 November 2014 23:22 (5 days ago) Permalink


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