Billboard and Nielsen announced this week the addition of U.S. YouTube video streaming data to its platforms, which includes an update to the methodology for the Billboard Hot 100, the preeminent singles chart. The YouTube streaming data is now factored into the chart’s ranking, enhancing a formula that includes Nielsen’s digital download track sales and physical singles sales; as well as terrestrial radio airplay, on-demand audio streaming, and online radio streaming, also tracked by Nielsen.
Billboard is now incorporating all official videos on YouTube captured by Nielsen’s streaming measurement, including Vevo on YouTube, and user-generated clips that utilize authorized audio into the Hot 100 and the Hot 100 formula-based genre charts -- Hot Country Songs, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, R&B Songs, Rap Songs, Hot Latin Songs, Hot Rock Songs and Dance/Electronic Songs -- to further reflect the divergent platforms for music consumption in today’s world.
"The very definition of what it means to have a hit is ever-changing these days,” says Bill Werde, Billboard’s editorial director. “The Billboard charts are the ultimate measure of success in music, and they constantly evolve to reflect these new music experiences. When the charts launched over 70 years ago, a hit was defined as selling copies of a single or generating airplay. While those avenues are still viable, one needn't look any further than Cee Lo, Gotye, PSY or now Baauer to know that a song can be a massive hit on YouTube alone."
The most notable YouTube-influenced title this week is viral sensation “Harlem Shake” by producer Baauer, which debuts at No. 1 on both the Hot 100 and Streaming Songs charts and jumps 12-1 on Dance/Electronic Songs with 103 million views, according to YouTube. According to Nielsen, the “Harlem Shake” arrival also benefits from viral video-influenced sales of 262,000 downloads. That sales sum alone, good for a No. 3 ranking on Hot Digital Songs, would have placed within the top 15 on the Hot 100 without the inclusion of YouTube streams into the calculation.
Other YouTube-influenced highlights on the Hot 100 include Rihanna’s “Stay” which jumps 57-3 and Drake’s “Started From the Bottom” which soars 63-10. Videos for both songs were posted on YouTube during the tracking week, with Rihanna’s title garnering 3.8 million views in the U.S. and Drake’s “Started” earning 5.1 million. In addition, perennial YouTube favorite PSY rebounds 48-26 on the Hot 100 with “Gangnam Style” which adds another 3.7 million streams this week to its already impressive streaming total.
“We’re excited to join Billboard and Nielsen in sharing how YouTube’s global stage helps fans discover new artists, and artists discover new audiences,” said Robert Kyncl, Google's Vice President and Global Head of Content at YouTube. “From Bieber and Baauer to Macklemore and Psy, YouTube is proving to be a launchpad for both established artists and the next generation of music talent.”
The inclusion of YouTube streaming data comes nearly one year after Billboard and Nielsen launched the On-Demand Songs chart and added streaming data from leading on-demand subscription services such as Spotify, Muve Music, Rhapsody, Slacker, Rdio and Xbox Music to its chart and tracking offerings.
“The Billboard charts, especially the Hot 100, have always served to reflect the most popular songs in the country, based on the ways fans are consuming music," says Silvio Pietroluongo, Billboard’s director of charts. “There is no denying the impact YouTube has today on music and popular culture. The inclusion of this type of interactive data to the formulas of the Hot 100, Streaming Songs and our many genre song charts is a perfect and natural complement to our varied data sources, assuring the Billboard charts are the most accurate gauge of song popularity.”
In addition, YouTube data will also contribute to Billboard’s Streaming Songs chart, launched last month, which blends all of the available streaming sources into one ranking.
The updated Hot 100, Hot 100-based genre charts and Streaming Songs chart will be available on Billboard.com/biz  tomorrow morning (February 21).