Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Revamped Billboard Chart ... And Some Of YOUR Radio Comments

>>> Gone! The Billboard Hot 100 as we have known it! 
It's not as if I have been following the Hot 100 much lately. In fact I have not, for the past maybe 20 years or so. But this news is unbelievable, at least to me.
My personal view is that if wants to use YouTube then they should consider doing a chart based purely on YouTube views, if that's possible. But I do not think that YouTube should be part of the Hot 100. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not EVER! 
In the back of my mind I can envision a hotshot computer programmer (not ME, LOL!) who will figure out a way to create software to artificially make YouTube videos increase to astronomical levels. If this is done (and I don't believe it's at all beyond the realm of possibility), then record charts in the future could become more fraudulent than ever before.  If this were happening around April 1st, I would think it might be an April Fool's joke. But that is not the case. Please forgive any typos on my part. They may occur because I feel somewhat emotional about this.
To put it concisely: I think this is a lousy idea and that's putting it mildly.   Do you agree or disagree?
Either way, here's the info, for what it's worth.
(And by the way, if you don't recognize any of the titles mentioned within the article below, don't feel bad. I am sure that you are not alone!)  The importance of this to me is this decision on the part of Billboard to do make what I consider to be this absurd move rather than the specific hits mentioned below. (
>>>This week the Billboard Hot 100, the magazine’s 55-year-old singles chart, takes an evolutionary step by incorporating YouTube plays into its formula. The move comes just in time for Baauer’s song "Harlem Shake," the latest viral video phenomenon, which will make its debut at No. 1 this week thanks to the change.  "Harlem Shake," a bass-heavy hip-hop track with no lyrics beyond a few samples, got little mainstream attention when it was released in May as a free download. But this month its popularity exploded on YouTube, as thousands of fans uploaded videos of themselves dancing — some might say simply flailing — along to the song. By last week more than 4,000 videos were going up each day.  Download sales and Spotify streams of the track also skyrocketed. But the remarkable trajectory of "Harlem Shake" led Billboard to move forward right away on its methodology update, something it had been in discussions with YouTube about for nearly two years, Bill Werde, the magazine’s editorial director, said on Wednesday.  "The notion that a song has to sell in order to be a hit feels a little two or three years ago to me," Mr. Werde said. "The music business today — much to its credit — has started to learn that there are lots of different ways a song can be a hit, and lots of different ways that the business can benefit from it being a hit."
The move is Billboard’s latest step in modernizing the Hot 100, which besides sales and airplay now also incorporates data from streaming services like Spotify. YouTube has taken on an essential role in propelling songs to the cultural forefront, often long before they are picked up by radio programmers. Psy’s "Gangnam Style" and Carly Rae Jepsen’s "Call Me Maybe" are the most prominent examples of this trend, but plenty of other recent hits — like Gotye's Grammy-winning "Somebody That I Used To Know" — also owe much of their success to video virality.  The rise of "Harlem Shake" is all the more remarkable because of its speed. With only 18,000 downloads, the song did not make the last Hot 100 chart at all. But last week it caught fire online, and across the tens of thousands of its scattered YouTube dance videos the song had 103 million views in the United States, according to YouTube, and sold 262,000 downloads, making it the third-most downloaded track of the week. (Even without the YouTube data, "Harlem Shake" would have charted in the Top 15 this week, Mr. Werde said.)  Billboard's charts are based on data collected by Nielsen SoundScan, which has also been modernizing its data. When the service started in 1991, it gave the music industry its first reliable, third-party sales data, transforming the way record labels, retailers and others did business. Now Nielsen also tracks radio plays and most major streaming services.  "We want to measure how much consumption is going on, in whatever form a consumer chooses to consume something," said David Bakula, a senior analyst at Nielsen.  Also on the charts this week a number of acts benefited from their exposure at the Grammy Awards. Mumford & Sons rose three spots to return to No. 1 with "Babel" (Glassnote), the album of the year, which sold 185,000 copies last week. And a compilation of this year’s Grammy nominees is No. 2 with 88,000 sales.  Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s track "Thrift Shop" was once again the most-downloaded track of the week, with 412,000 sales. But with the arrival of "Harlem Shake," it falls to No. 2 on the Hot 100.
>>>I read the same thing and was a bit surprised. I kind of get it ... remember in the old days when their chart (pre-Hot 100) used to include jukebox plays ... heck, at one point they even included sheet music sales. So if they're trying to fully encompass the scope of just how popular a given piece of music is, then this makes sense ... more people listen to music on youTube these days than through any other source. (I like the fact that Werde acknowledges that without including youTube views "Harlem Shake" would have placed at #15 on this week's chart ... that's a pretty amazing percentage factor to propel it all the way to #1 ... especially after not being on the chart at all a week ago!!!) But I also see the point to where a label with a big budget to spend could simply have THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of people click "play" on any given track to help distort its actual amount of viewership. (Then again, some of the more popular videos on youTube have upwards of 40 million views already ... so there's no denying the impact.) What this does (and has continued to do for some time now) is to greatly distort any kind of comparison regarding how popular a piece of music is today vs. a hit from 30, 40 or 50 years ago. It's not a level playing ground. Music comes and goes much more quickly now. (I think I heard that on the next episode of "Glee", they'll be performing their 500th song!!!! In the first 18 months of the series, 130 titles by the "Glee" cast charted on Billboard's Hot 100 Pop Singles Chart. Did any of them really matter? No ... but because downloading music is the way we purchase today, the charts HAVE to reflect the current buying trends of any given era. Look at the music department in any of your big chain stores ... assuming they even still HAVE a music department ... and you'll see that this is NOT the way most people buy music today. How many stand alone, "new" record stores are you aware of? Where they sell nothing else but the latest releases? Like it or not, the times have changed ... and I believe Billboard simply wants to reflect those trends on their chart. How accurate will they be? That's a tough call. Like I said, the points seem pretty weighted if youTube views can propel a record from #15 to #1! (kk) 
I asked chart guru Joel Whitburn what HE thought about the change ...  
Hi Kent,
The news should not shock anyone that Billboard is including YouTube views in its Hot 100 chart methodology. It’s simply a company keeping up with digital formats of all types: downloading, streaming and internet viewing. Those are now combined with radio airplay and sales data.
As we move further into the digital era, changes must be made to reflect consumers preferences, otherwise the current charts would become irrelevant in today’s fast-paced music industry. We’ve seen how immediate music as seen and heard on TV shows, be they a series or an award show, can be instantly reflected on the “Hot 100” chart.  
As usual, there will probably be an uproar from many in the industry, however, it has always been that way when Billboard changes its chart methodology to stay relevant.
Joel Whitburn  
I agree that it's an accurate way of keeping tabs on what people are listening to ... but I can also see the means for some serious "ballot box stuffing", too. Watching and rewatching the same videos ... and getting hundreds or thousands or more of your friends to do the same thing (especially if encouraged or in some way financially compensated for doing so) could greatly distort chart reality ... whereas actual sales is a far more accurate measure. If by "sales" that means downloading by today's standards, so be it ... but let's face it, most people (if not ALL people) are not going to pay to download the same song more than once. With YouTube being free, there's really no limit to how many times you can listen back to the same song. By the same token, I object to it being as "weighted" as it appears to be ... if by previous chart standards "Harlem Shake" would have come in at #15, then I think YouTube plays being able to propel it to #1 is a bit extreme ... and greatly distorts the proper perspective. (Forget the fact that, according to the Billboard article above, the song is already ten months old when it's appearing on the chart for the very first time. And besides that, I feel really bad for the "Pants On The Ground" guy from American Idol a few years ago who now got cheated out of the same opportunity!!!) 
Quite honestly, I haven't agreed with much of Billboard's revamping of their chart history lately. We recently discussed them starting their chart research with the very first Hot 100 Chart now, issued in August of 1958, thus eliminating Elvis' first 30+ chart singles ... yet by today's standards the cast of "Glee" can chart upwards of 150 times and, on paper, appear to have had more hits than Elvis did. But NONE of those hits stayed on the charts for any length of time or had any significant impact ... they were only there long enough to fill time until next week's new material could be downloaded ... yet YEARS from now the trivia question is going to read something like "Who had more chart hits than Elvis, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined?" ... and the answer will be The Cast of "Glee" ... and that's just WRONG!!! But it's a statistic ... not a good one ... certainly not an accurate one ... but when all of us are gone, THAT'S the way the impact of their music is going to be viewed. And I have a REAL problem with that ... and I'm saying this knowing full well that we own virtually every "Glee" soundtrack CD ever released! 
Comparing the impact of today's hits to those of yesterday has become a complete impossibility. We recently discussed how back in the prolific '60's, the most creative time EVER in the history of rock and roll, artists were hitting the charts every three months with new material ... you HAD to in order to compete and stay relevant. As such, a HUGE hit record might only stay on the charts for 8-10 weeks before it was replaced by that same artists' next big smash. Yet today it's not at all uncommon for songs to chart for upwards of a YEAR ... and I believe YouTube will only distort this even further. 
I get it ... I'm just not sure I like it ... or, at the very least, I go back to what I said earlier ... these measurements should be fairly weighted for what they truly represent. (kk)   
You are right on target with your assessment of WLS-FM -- I, too, am a former listener who just can't take the repetition and limited play list anymore. WLS had a glowing reputation -- and some of the most well-known call letters in all of radio. It's a shame to see them tarnish it this way. Like you, I don't know anybody who's still listening. Apparently the ratings are starting to reflect this. 
I commented a while back that I could have gotten Brody on "Homeland" to crack in less than a week ... just make him listen to WLS-FM 24/7 and he'd tell you ANYTHING, just to get you to change the station! There may not be a better form of torture out there right now. (kk)   
Three things came to my mind while reading today's comments.  
First, I am like one of your readers in that on Sundays on my way to church and before, I tune
in and listen to Casey Kasem's AT40, the 70's. I guarantee you that each week I hear at least one song I haven't heard on the radio in many years.
When I read from one of your readers that stations don't do dedications anymore, I immediately thought of Freddy Cannon's 1966 song THE DEDICATION SONG. I still remember those famous last words,"Uh uh uh! Don't touch that dial"
And finally, you mention that you heard on more than one occasion where a listener would phone in for a request or dedication and the DJ would say on the air that they didn't have the record. I was always told not to say that to the listener, much less play it back over the air, but to tell them that you would try to get it on, or words to that effect.
That would make the most sense ... let's face it, every dedication doesn't make it on the air. Or, it today's age, you could record and save that request for next week's show and then play it back with the record they were looking for. (I've also heard them say "We don't have that one ... but how about THIS one". Of course then they always play something that they most likely overplay anyway ... but at least you're keeping your listeners tuned in and feeling part of your show.) kk 
We got another comment about the incomparable Freddy Cannon ...   
Good morning Kent.
Reading as I do so often about all the stations in the US closing their oldies section I would like to just remind the readership of the following stations available in the UK. The first three are live each Saturday night but can be listened to any time afterwards for up to a week. 
First is Bernie Keith on Log in and find last Saturday’s date, click on it and find his programme, Bernie Keith, and click on it to bring up the listen to box. 
Then there is Geoff Barker ... go to ... log in and find Saturday’s date, click on it and find his programme, Rock “n” Roll Party and click on it to bring up the listen to box.  Lastly is Dave Cash and he can be heard on  
Log in and find last Saturday’s date, click on it and find his programme Dave Cash and click on it to bring up the listen to box. 
Then there are three from the US that I am aware of:, 
Lastly, if I can have a moan about the choice of people put forward to the organization who jokingly calls themselves The Rock “n” Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Have they never heard of Freddy the great Boom, Boom Cannon????? May I remind those in the UK Freddy is topping the bill at this years Hemsby festival held over the weekend of May the 10th till 13th
Take care, 
Rockin’ Lord Geoff  
No question about it ... if you want GOOD oldies with any hint of variety, you've got to go to the Internet these days to find 'em. And I'm fine with that ... if terrestrial radio has abandoned us, then so be it ... we'll take our business elsewhere. (But until I have a way to listen to all of these great programs in the car, I really won't be satisfied. But that day, too, will come.) 
Freddy is still rockin' the house ... great to hear that he's headlining a few shows up your way. Be sure to get him on your programme. (If you need any assistance with that, just let me know ... Freddy is a regular Forgotten Hits reader and contributor!) kk   
There's a little radio station in Vineland, NJ, called Cruisin 92.1 WVLT and they play the REAL oldies! They play the 50s and 60s, hits and B sides. The disc jockeys are wonderful, and a personal friend of mine hosts a show on Sundays at 7 pm. He takes requests, and they seem to have every song imaginable. You can listen online at Who needs stations in Chicago? The music selections here are from heaven!!  
LOTS of great oldies stations to choose from on the Internet ... happy to pass this along! (kk) 
I know I've read ... probably on your website ... about DJs who just play whatever songs they like from whatever era and genre they want. That would appeal to me. I went somewhere with a friend of mine and she was tuned into a local station playing a lot of 70s & 80s rock that I enjoy ... songs it seems I haven't heard in ages and some I'd forgotten. I believe you could have a station that never ever played any song twice and they wouldn't run out. I still listen to some Mae West and Lena Horne from the 30s and Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith and Sophie Tucker from the 20s. Good music is good music ... and I appreciate your efforts to keep it alive. 
Hey Kent,
I agree with all you say in your radio raves, about the demise of good, honest, and creative radio of today. I predicted this would happen, when the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was signed into law.
Here's something you might find amusing. Shortly after I received my degree in broadcasting, back in the 70s, I was looking for a job in radio, and saw that a small market station, about 75 miles from here, was looking for an announcer. I first listened to the station, and liked what I heard. They played a soft rock / pop format, with "soothing" sounding announcers, not the high-energy, yelling, announcers of the time. I made an appointment for an interview, and drove out there. It was a new station, but not very large. The station manager was very nice and seemed interested in my talents. The position was for the graveyard shift on weekends. Well, you have to start somewhere, right? At the close of the interview, he asked me if I had any questions. I told him that I wanted to see the announcer, who was on at that moment, doing his thing. The manager had a smirk on his face and said, "Sure!" He led me down the hall to the studio, opened the door, and there was a huge, reel-to-reel tape machine doing all the announcing! You could see my jaw hit the floor! The position was for a person to change the music and announcing tapes, and give the weather on the hour, all night long. I was disgusted and my dreams were shattered. Needless to say, I didn't think the drive, hours, and minimum wage, were worth it, to do something like that.
What I'm trying to do here is compare the radio scene today with what that station (and stations like it) did, back in those days. Not much difference, right? They may as well bring back the "robot announcer" today. It might save the big companies some money for salaries.
- John LaPuzza   
Unfortunately, we have more and more "robot broadcasting" now than ever ... and it's all a cost-saving move. But it also removes any connection with radio and the listener if they can't interact in some fashion. To use the example from yesterday, most of these pre-programmed stations didn't even break in to announce that Michael Jackson had died a couple of years ago ... those listeners heard it somewhere else ... or the next day!!! (And that's just wrong.) Radio USED to be the primary form of communication ... we got all of our information there. Now it's impossible not to "tune out" when we listen ... it's just background noise ... the ONLY time we perk up is when we hear something different ... THEN we take notice and say "Wow! I can't believe they played THAT one!" or "Man, I haven't heard THAT song in twenty years!" Otherwise you'd do just as well to buy a white noise machine ... it'll be every bit as entertaining. (kk)   
Scott's flagship station out of Connecticut was the only station that gave me direct access to the True Oldies Channel here in Taiwan. Now I have to go indirectly through to hear Scott. 
Dann Isbell  
I know he often gave out that address as the one to listen to ... which just tells me he brought thousands and thousands of listeners nationwide to their website. Too bad things didn't work out. But even Scott Shannon has people he has to answer to ... and those people want more '80's music. (kk) 
Sadly, WAXB (B-103), as you mention, has decided to leave the TOC family. It was through their station that I became hooked on Scott and the TOC. It was Scott Shannon that would bring the Danbury, CT. station back to good ratings. Unless they were beginning to lose ratings (which I doubt), it's too bad, as there is really nothing now over the airwaves for 'oldies' listeners plus there is NO way to replace a HOF air personality like Scott Shannan. I will listen to the TOC online but I will miss it from my radio. I'm 57 yrs-old, so I just caught the end of the great AM radio days in the N.Y. - CT. area - WABC, WMCA in N.Y. and some of the great CT. stations; WNHC (where Dan Ingram worked in the late '50's) and WAVZ (both New Haven). 
John Evanich III 
Stratford, CT.  
I know it's tough sometimes (and that there's a lot of pressure to do otherwise) but Scott Shannon HAS to remain focused and realize that he fills a need and a void in radio programming. The folks that love the oldies REALLY love the oldies ... they don't want anything else ... and a pro like Shannon presents them in such a way that makes you want to keep listening. I know "research" today says most people only listen to the radio for 20 minutes ... but they're leaving out all of the people who program a station to play at work for 8-10 straight hours. Frannie's workplace switched from WLS-FM to K-Hits after a week, simply because of the pure, constant repetition ... they literally couldn't stand it anymore. And radio doesn't care. They no longer program radio to RETAIN listeners ... they just figure that if they play one of those Steve Miller songs or "Jack And Diane" every 20 minutes at least whenever somebody tunes in, they'll hear something familiar ... again insulting their entire TRUE base of listeners in the process. 
I'm like you ... I can listen if I'm at the computer ... but I want my music to go where I go ... and I enjoyed listening to it in the car to and from work. (We actually have a "no radios" policy at work so I'm locked out anyway. Imagine what THAT'S like for a guy like me!!!) 
Hopefully Scott will pick up a new station not only in your area but ours as well ... because we are SORELY lacking for variety here on the Chicago Radio Dial these days. (kk)  
Hi Kent,
There has been talk for quite some time about doing something with that station (WWYW 103.9).
And it's not that Tom Kent does not do a fine job of being the standard bearer of the oldies brand at a national level. I just think that they realized that whatever money was saved by having him on 24/7 was negligible compared to the general erosion of interest in the station as a local entity, and the inevitable decline in revenue.
I talked to Jack Taddeo a couple of times since he took over in Crystal Lake and I found him to be a knowledgeable radio guy. I knew something would happen there, and now we know that this is it. It may not be what oldies fans want to hear, but I certainly applaud the attempt at making it live and local, like back when Jeff and Sean and Danny and Ken and Marci and me were on there. That was when it was most successful.
I'm wishing them all the best with this.
Jim Shea 
Hi Kent --
Yeah, you already heard about the change. Still reading the newsletter a couple times a week and appreciate all the support you gave me and the music I played. Still in the vault playing the records but this time around with no audience. If something comes along as in regards to another station, I will let you know!!! 
Jeff James 
Reading today's piece was like reading an obituary ... how sad. 
You may be spot on with that assessment, Phil ... and you're right ... it IS sad. (kk) 
But THIS one ought to cheer you up! 
Got a GREAT email from our FH Buddy Chet Coppock who shared some of his random thoughts with our readers ... it's going to be tough to top THIS one as Email of the Week! Thanks, Chet ... made me smile! (kk) 
If an artist as lackluster as Tommy Roe had 23 singles that found their way to the Billboard Top 100, maybe the 60's weren't so great after all.
The greatest song Aretha Franklin ever knocked out was "I Never Loved a Man".
I have given up on Chicago grabbing a ticket to the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame. Its criminal. Blame Jann Wenner.  Rolling Stone maqazine is about as engaging as watching dry wall.
If I hear Steve Miller's "Fly Like an Eagle" one more time I may leap off the Hancock Building.
Do Fagen and Becker ever speak to each other?
"Scarecrow", bar none, is the best song ever recorded by John Mellencamp. Meanwhile, hearing "Jack and Diane" is like doing 30 days in Cook County Jail.
Hands down, "I Only Have Eyes for You" is the greatest doo-wop song ever recorded. Ethereal, brilliantly produced, with an unmatched lead vocal by Nate Clay.
Is is time to declare 3 Door Downs and oldies act?
Can we start a petition to have Journey banned from any and all classic rock radio stations?
If Don Henley's "Heart of the Matter" were released tomorrow, tell me the station that would play it?
Chet Coppock
Host: "Heritage Series", Chicago Blackhawks
'Host: Notre Damwe Football, WLS Radio
NAILED IT!!! (lol) kk