BEST OF 2012

How We Chart The Year


How Billboard Recaps New Social Charts and Much More

By Silvio Pietroluongo

As our numerous year-end charts reflect, 2012 was an exciting and unpredictable year for the music industry. While each of Billboard¹s editors and readers may have certain moments, artists, songs or albums that stick out as memorable to them, it¹s the annual mission of the charts department to crunch 12 months¹ worth of chart numbers to determine the definitive rankings of the best of every year.

Billboard.com presents more than 100 year-end lists for 2012 (with 440-plus rankings available at billboard.biz/charts and almost 300 in the year-end print magazine, available today). Joining the chart lineup in 2012 was On-Demand Songs. The chart, launched in March, measures every on-demand play request and plays from unlimited listener-controlled radio channels on MOG, Muve Music, Rdio, Rhapsody, Slacker, Spotify, Xbox Music and Guvera. The chart recognizes Gotye¹s ³Somebody That I Used to Know² (featuring Kimbra) and breakthrough group fun. as its top-ranking song and artist, respectively.

Each of the year-end music tallies represents aggregated numbers for each artist and title from the weekly charts. Most of those numbers are based on data from Nielsen Entertainment, with sales of physical and digital product compiled by Nielsen SoundScan and radio airplay and digital streams measured by Nielsen BDS. The Ringtones category is based on sales tracked by Nielsen MobileScan.

Social 50 and Uncharted data are provided by aggregator Next Big Sound, which tracks social activity on such sites as YouTube, Vevo, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, SoundCloud, Instagram and Wikipedia.

The rankings for BDS- and SoundScan-based music charts reflect airplay, sales or streaming during the weeks that titles appeared on a relevant chart during the tracking period. The 2012 chart year began with last year¹s Dec. 3 chart week and ended with the one dated Nov. 24, 2012. Sales or airplay registered before or after a title¹s chart run aren¹t considered in these standings. That methodology detail, and the December-November time period, account for some of the differences between these lists and the calendar-year recaps that are compiled independently by either SoundScan or BDS.

Rankings for year-end airplay charts are based on accumulated BDS-monitored plays or audience impressions, depending on each list¹s weekly methodology, for each week a song appeared on the chart.

The Billboard Hot 100 reflects accumulated radio, sales and streaming points, according to data provided by BDS and SoundScan. In March, the Hot 100 streaming sources expanded to include the aforementioned services that contribute to On-Demand Songs, including their non-demand radio streams, along with video request service Akoo.

While Country Songs, R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, Latin Songs, Rock Songs and Rap Songs relaunched the week of Oct. 13 to incorporate sales and streaming data to match the Hot 100's formula, the final Year in Music rankings for those charts are based on the respective methodology each genre employed for the majority of the year during the full 52-week recap period.

Artist categories for overall (Top), Country, R&B/Hip-Hop, Latin and Rock are determined by a weighted formula covering all-encompassing activity including album sales, track download sales, radio airplay, streaming data, Billboard Boxscore touring revenue, Social 50 chart activity and ringtone sales.

For an act to qualify as a new artist for the Top, Country, R&B/Hip-Hop, Latin and Rock categories, it must not have had an album peak on the Billboard 200 prior to October 2011 or appeared on a prior year-end new artist ranking.

The Dance/Club Play Songs rankings are based on an inverse point system, with titles collecting points based on rank for each week they were on the chart.

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