Billboard Adds Digital Twist to Genre Chart Methodology

Downloads and streams, already counted for the Hot 100, will now be tallied for Billboard's country, R&B/hip-hop, Latin, and rap songs charts

Spotify's Daniel Ek
Spotify co-founder Daniel Ek's service gains chart clout / Photo by Kevin Winter for Getty Images
Marc Hogan WRITTEN BY
Marc Hogan

Billboard is updatings its genre charts methodology to include input from people who buy and stream music online. The music business publication will incorporate digital download sales and streaming data from services such as Spotify and Rhapsody in charts covering genres from country to rap. The tweaks bring these charts into alignment with Billboard's overall songs chart, the Hot 100, where Maroon 5 currently and inexplicably reign.

The new methodology applies to Billboard's venerable Hot Country Songs, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, and Hot Latin Songs charts. All three charts will continue to use Nielsen BDS' radio airplay data. But they will also take into account Nielsen SoundScan's digital sales figures, plus Nielsen BDS' numbers on streaming from Spotify, Muve, Slacker, Rhapsody, Rdio, Xbox Music, and other services. The newer Hot Rock Songs airplay chart and Rap Songs radio survey will also start using digital downloads and streaming data, as will a newly created R&B Songs chart.

Billboard positions the new methodology as a means of keeping up with listeners' changing habits. "The way people consume music continues to evolve and as a result so do our genre charts, which now track the many new ways fans experience, listen to and buy music," Billboard's director of charts, Silvio Pietroluongo, is quoted as saying. "We're proud to be offering updated genre charts that better reflect the current music landscape as well as a new R&B Songs chart that finally shines a spotlight solely on core R&B acts like Frank Ocean, John Legend and Anthony Hamilton."

The move might not be the only vote of confidence this week for music-streaming service providers. Coca-Cola is negotiating a roughly $10 million investment in Spotify, Bloomberg reports, citing two people with knowledge of the talks. One of the people reportedly said a deal isn't guaranteed. Coca-Cola has been boosting its entertainment presence as a way of reaching young people, and it struck an Internet marketing agreement with Spotify in April.

Spotify could probably use the cash. CNET reported last week that Spotify's financial results in 2011 were, well, not chart-topping. As revenue rose by 151% from the previous year, losses grew by 60% over the same time, according to data from PrivCo, whose numbers a Spotify spokesperson confirmed to CNET were accurate.

Spotify is trying to bring in $100 million to $200 million from investors, according to Bloomberg, which cites people with knowledge of the information speaking in May. The funding round would reportedly put the company's worth at up to $4 billion. Goldman Sachs Group was said to be among the investors in discussions. Hey, with apologies to Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi, "the great vampire squid" might be a pretty decent band name.

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