The Best of 2011: The Year in Music
The Best of 2011: The Year in Music

BEST OF 2011

How We Chart The Year


Behind The Scenes Of Our Annual Recap Of The Year's Top Artists And Titles

By Silvio Pietroluongo

Billboard.com's Year in Music special offers the definitive recap of the songs, albums and artists that have fared the best during the past year.

Joining the lineup in 2011 are rankings for the artist-based Social 50 and Uncharted charts and the addition of Radio Songs artists. Also new to the menu are expanded artist breakouts for Latin and Rock, including new recognition for the top artists in those genres. The aforementioned charts recognize chart-topping achievements by such diverse acts as Justin Bieber, Traphik, Shakira and Mumford & Sons.

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 RingScan. Social 50 data is provided by online aggregator Next Big Sound, while Uncharted is formulated by data from Next Big Sound and Myspace.

The rankings for BDS- and SoundScan-based music charts reflect airplay or sales during the weeks that titles appeared on a relevant chart during the tracking period. The 2011 chart year began with last year's Dec. 4-dated charts and ended with the one dated Nov. 26, 2011.

Sales or airplay registered before or after a title's chart run aren't 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.

Artist categories for all genres reflect accumulated chart performance for all titles on the pertinent chart.

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

The Hot 100 reflects accumulated radio, sales and streaming points, according to data provided by Nielsen BDS and Nielsen SoundScan.

The categories of Top Artists, Country Artists and R&B/Hip-Hop Artists have been revised this year to account for activity beyond album sales, track downloads and airplay. Now part of the weighted formula is Boxscore touring revenue, Social 50 chart activity, ringtone sales and streaming data from such sources as Vevo, Slacker, AOL, Rhapsody and Napster, among others, provided by Nielsen BDS.

For an act to qualify for the Top New Artists category, it must not have placed an album on the Billboard 200 prior to October 2010 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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