lar charts are published in many other
countries. As an examplar, and without
loss of generality, we detail here how
Billboard generates its charts, highlighting the reasons for their diminishing relevance.
ILLUs TRATIon By s TUDIo TonnE
Traditional charts. Billboard captures
data from multiple sources to produce a composite ranking of individual songs, aka singles. Its two primary
sources are Nielsen Soundscan (http://
www.soundscan.com/) and Broadcast
Data Systems ( http://www.bdsonline.
com/). Soundscan tracks sales data
in real time across the U.S. and Canada. Because not all retail stores have
Soundscan-enabled cash registers,
the data retrieved from these systems
represents only a limited set of total
sales. However, even this limited set
is an improvement over the previous
mechanism used by Billboard—mak-
ing thousands of individual telephone
calls to stores across the U.S. to ask
Broadcast Data Systems collects
Billboard radio-listener statistics gathered from companies contracted by
Billboard to contribute to the chart of
radio airplay. Thus, not all radio airplays are captured. Once the data is
captured from Soundscan and Broadcast Data Systems, it is weighted by Arbitron statistics ( http://www.arbitron.
com/) and compiled by asking a random sample of the key demographic
to maintain a written diary describing each radio program listened to
between the hours of 6 a.m. and midnight over a period of a few months as
set by Arbitron. Each diary is returned
to Arbitron by postal mail; Arbitron
publishes a complete set of its statistics four times per year.
In the past few years, Billboard has
moved to incorporate data from digital
downloads and the like, but it still constitutes only a small percentage (about
5%) of the chart’s total points. 10
Concerns. The music industry’s desire to promote and sell new music
and remove long-running singles from
charts has led to the fact that the older
singles that consumers are still interested in are completely ignored in the
charts. Music charts also lack a clear
way to handle the rerelease of singles
and gauge interest in music that gains
popularity over a long period through
word of mouth. Another issue with the
historic chart-generation process is
that there is no measure for the lead-up to the release of albums or singles.
Though consumers may discuss an
upcoming album release for days, the
charts do not reflect this conversation.