Keith answers readers' questions on the Hot Singles Sales charts, Bubbling Under, satellite radio and more!
Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. Submit your burning music
questions to Keith Caulfield at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SINGLE IN AMERICA
I've been watching with interest the continuing good chart run of Kate Nash's debut single "Foundations" on the Hot Singles Sales chart. The song reached No. 2 in on the Official U.K. Singles Chart last summer and has gone one better on a chart in the U.S., reaching number one on the Hot Singles Sales chart a few weeks ago.
I'm aware that physical singles sales are low these days but I was wondering how many copies the physical single has sold in total in the U.S.? How much did it sell the week it reached No. 1?
And finally, how many copies has the digital version (if there is one) sold in total?
First, one should not compare the Billboard Hot Singles Sales chart to the Official U.K. Singles Chart.
The Official U.K. Singles Chart is recognized as the definitive singles chart in that country. However, in the U.S., The Billboard Hot 100 is its equivalent, and always has been. The Billboard Hot 100 blends sales and airplay data in order to rank the 100 most popular songs in the country each week. However, the Official U.K. Singles Chart is based solely on sales.
So what about Billboard's Hot Singles Sales chart? Why is it not that important?
Well, the chart ranks only those singles that are available in a physical format (CD single, vinyl, etc.). Additionally, if an artist releases a physical single, and they also release the digital equivalent, then the digital purchase of that single would count as a "single" as well.
I know, it's confusing.
Nash, for example, released her "Foundations" single as a four-track CD maxi-single. On iTunes, you can find that exact same single with the same four tracks. If you were to go to iTunes and click the "Buy Album" button for "Foundations," that would count as a single sale towards our Hot Singles Sales chart. However, if you only chose to purchase a single track, then that would count as an individual track sale, and go towards the Hot Digital Songs chart.
The Hot Digital Songs chart tallies up downloads of individual songs from such retailers as iTunes and Amazon.
Kate Nash's "Foundations" single has sold 14,000 according to Nielsen SoundScan. It has only registered one week where it sold in excess of 1,000 units - the week it hit No. 1 on Hot Singles Sales. Of that 14,000 total, the physical CD maxi single accounted for 4,000 while the digital single totaled 10,000.
If we only look at the number of tracks the individual song "Foundations" has sold, that total stands at 61,000 a much more impressive number. It has yet to chart on the Hot Digital Songs chart.
Nash's album "Made of Bricks" has sold 56,000.
RECOVERING THE SATELLITES
I have been a subscriber of satellite radio for almost six months now and the music on there is just amazing. I like to support music acts by requests and stuff like that and I was wondering if you Billboard accounts satellite radio airplay for the charts and if they don¹t, will they sometime soon?
Satellite radio stations are included in many of the airplay charts that we compile. We limit the number of satellite reporters for a radio format to one each for XM and Sirius.
So, on our Alternative/Modern Rock panel of stations, we monitor Sirius' Alt Nation and XM's Ethel. For the CHR/Top 40 chart, we monitor Sirius' Hits 1 and XM Top 20 on 20. The list goes on.
INCHES FROM HEAVEN
This question goes back a while -- I would guess into the mid or late 1960s -- but I seem to remember a song called "21 Inches of Heaven" but I can't remember who sang it. I believe it was a female country artist. I looked it up in "Joel Whitburn's Top Country Songs" book but it wasn't listed. Do you have any information?
Also, has Billboard ever done a "Bubbling Under" book on the other charts, like the Country or R&B charts, aside from the "Bubbling Under The Billboard Hot 100" book?
Was the artist Jamey Ryan? I did some hunting around and found that she released a single called "21 Inches of Heaven" in 1966 on Columbia Records.
It looks like this particular single never charted on any Billboard chart. However, Ryan did score three hits on the Hot Country Songs chart: "You're Looking' For a Plaything" (No. 62), "Holy Cow" (No. 75) and "Keep On Loving Me" (No. 88).
If you are interested, you can buy the 45 vinyl single at Out of the Past Records online.
Joel Whitburn's Record Research company has published a "Bubbling Under The Billboard Hot 100" book. However, while we have a Bubbling Under chart for the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, there isn't a Record Research book that corresponds to it. For more information about Record Research's books, visit their Web site.