The Year In Music 2010
The Year In Music 2010

BEST OF 2010

How We Chart The Year


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

By Silvio Pietroluongo

Amazingly, the first year of the new decade has already come and gone. And as we do each December for this Year in Music special issue, Billboard recaps which artists and songwriters, albums and singles, labels and imprints fared the best in the past 12 months.

Within the special print issue of Billboard, you'll find more than 280 lists with 450-plus rankings available online (here at Billboard.com and also at billboard.biz/charts), including deeper lists for some charts included on these pages.

Joining the print lineup in 2010 are rankings of the top digital songs for country, Latin, R&B/hip-hop and rock as well as recaps for the airplay-based Rock Songs chart, which covers activity at a multitude of rock radio formats. The inclusion of the aforementioned charts recognizes chart-topping achievements by such diverse acts as Taylor Swift, Shakira, Eminem, Train and Rise Against.

Exclusive to Billboard.biz is a host of charts including such new additions as Folk Albums and digital song recaps for a multitude of genres like blues, Christian, comedy, new age and rap.

Each of the year-end music tallies represent aggregated numbers for each artist, title and music company from the weekly charts on which they appeared.

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 Master Ringtones recap is based on sales tracked by Nielsen RingScan.

The entire Billboard charts department has a hand in compiling the Year in Music lists. At the center of this effort are charts production manager Michael Cusson and associate production manager Alex Vitoulis. Boxscore chart manager Bob Allen compiles the touring charts.

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. This includes activity during unpublished weeks for those lists that print every other week. The 2010 chart year began with last year's Dec. 5 issue and ended with the one dated Nov. 27, 2010. Sales or airplay registered before or after a title's chart run aren't considered in these standings. That 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, imprint, label and distributor categories for all genres reflect accumulated chart performance for all titles on the pertinent chart.

The umbrella "label" categories refer to the distributing labels and/or promotion labels listed on our weekly charts. If only one label appears on a chart listing, that company counts as both "imprint" and "label" for that title.

Rankings for the following airplay categories are based on accumulated BDS-monitored plays for each week a song appeared on the chart: Mainstream Top 40, Rhythmic, Alternative, Active Rock, Heritage Rock, Triple A, Adult Contemporary, Adult Top 40, Dance Airplay, Mainstream R&B, Adult R&B, Gospel Songs and Smooth Jazz Songs.

Similarly, Hot 100 Airplay, Rap Songs, Hot Country Songs, Christian Songs, Rock Songs and Hot Latin Songs (and the four related Latin-format airplay charts) are determined by adding up the total number of gross audience impressions, as determined by BDS, which cross-references the exact time of airplay with Arbitron listener data for each week a track charted.

The Billboard Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs categories reflect accumulated radio and sales points, based specifically on BDS and Nielsen SoundScan, respectively. For the Hot 100, points from streamed music on AOL and Yahoo also shape the standings.

Three categories-Top, Country and R&B/Hip-Hop-combine data from album and singles charts, using formulas that have been weighted so that the sales units tallied on the Billboard 200, Top Country Albums and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, respectively, have parity with the specific chart points that construct each week's Hot 100, Hot Country Songs and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts.

For an act to qualify as a new artist for the Top, Country and R&B/Hip-Hop categories, they must not have placed an album on any Billboard chart prior to October 2009 or appeared on a prior year-end new artist ranking.

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

The publishing categories reflect accumulated points for all charted songs on the applicable weekly charts. If a song is held by more than one publisher, points are divided equally between those companies.

In the Publishing Corporation category, parent companies receive 100% of the points from publishers in which they own at least 50% equity and 25% of the points compiled by publishers that they administer but don't own.

Accompanying label listings on the top artists rankings are limited to the label each artist is signed to. An artist's title count will still include all charting efforts, even those recorded on other labels.

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