Fred Bronson discusses Billboard chart changes with readers.

WHEN WILL IT POP?

Dear Fred,

I saw in the print version of Billboard that the Hot 100 will soon incorporate the sale of paid downloads. It's about time! In addition, Billboard will also be producing a Pop 100 chart. That chart will also incorporate paid downloads and airplay from all Mainstream Top 40 radio stations.

This is great news to those of us who have wanted a pop chart! Do you know when it will begin? Details, details, details. Please?

Great column as always,

David Cardin
DPC518@aol.com

Hi Fred,

I recently read on Billboard.com about changes to the Hot 100 and the emergence of a Hot Digital Songs chart and I am still a bit confused. I've long been wondering if and when digital downloads will be included in a song's Hot 100 performance as Hot 100 Sales does. It is clear that the singles market in the U.S. is nearly non-existent, but aren't digital downloads essentially a replacement?

I'm also confused if the Pop 100 will replace the Hot 100. Can you please clarify this for me (and so many others who don't know either) and shed some light on when digital downloads will be included on the Hot 100?

Thanks, Fred!

Byron Barnstable
Boston

Dear David and Byron,

I've been hinting for some time about impending chart changes, so a lot of "Chart Beat" readers were anticipating last week's announcement.

The date for the introduction of the Pop 100 hasn't been announced by our chart department, and it's up to them to confirm the exact week the chart will first appear. I did check with Geoff Mayfield, our director of charts, and all he can say right now is that it will be soon -- very soon.

The Pop 100 will appear alongside the Hot 100, so that will continue to be the main singles chart, reflecting airplay in all formats. The Pop 100 will only include airplay from the Mainstream Top 40 radio format. Both the Hot 100 and Pop 100 will include sales data that includes paid downloads, which has effectively become the new singles market.



MEASURING THE HITS

Fred,

I just read in the paper that Billboard is changing rules about the Country charts in that the number of listeners instead of the number of spins determines the chart. I know they use it for other charts like Hot 100 Airplay but doesn't this give too much weight to big city stations especially since country is most popular in rural areas. Will this mean that a song with only 100 plays can get to No. 1 if played in big markets while a song that gets 1,000 plays in small markets will only reach No. 2?

Thanks,

James Parker
Nashville

Dear James,

The switch from number of spins to audience impressions means that the number of people hearing a song is what counts rather than the number of times a song is played. Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems is able to determine from ratings how many people listen to a particular radio station at a particular time, so audience impressions are determined by multiplying number of spins times number of people listening.

That means a highly-rated station in a smaller market might have the same or more influence on the chart as a lower-rated station in a more populated market, or that a smaller market's drive-time show will have more influence than a larger market's late night show.