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Billboard Charts Legend

GENERAL INFORMATION

SALES

Data for Billboard‘s sales charts, which include all album charts are compiled by MRC Data from a universe of retailers that represents more than 90% of the U.S. music retail market.

The sample includes not only music stores and the music departments at electronics and department stores, but also direct-to-consumer transactions and Internet sales (both physical albums via Internet, and ones bought via digital downloads). A limited array of verifiable sales from concert venues is also tabulated. All sales charts use the entire MRC Data panel.

The MRC Data system utilizes that same point-of-sale that music merchants use to track their inventory, so an itemized receipt from one’s last visit to a music retailer essentially doubles as a ballot cast for our charts.

AIRPLAY

Billboard‘s radio charts are compiled using information tracked by MRC Data, which electronically monitors radio stations in more than 140 markets across the U.S. The MRC Data system looks for an audio fingerprint, i.e. a characteristic that differentiates a song from all of the other ones that it tracks.

Certain airplay charts are based on the number of plays that each song received in a given format that week, including Mainstream Top 40/Pop Airplay, Adult Contemporary, Adult Top 40/Adult Pop Airplay, Alternative Airplay, Triple A/Adult Alternative Airplay, Mainstream Rock Airplay, Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay, Rhythmic Airplay, Adult R&B Airplay,  Christian AC Airplay, Gospel Airplay, Dance/Mix Show Airplay and Smooth Jazz Airplay (the lattermost of which combines monitored data with self-reported playlists). Others are based on audience impressions, including the all-format Radio Songs chart, Rock & Alternative Airplay, Country Airplay, R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay, Rap Airplay, Latin Airplay and Christian Airplay.

The audience charts cross-reference MRC Data information with listener information compiled by the Nielsen Audio ratings system to determine the approximate number of audience impressions made for each play. Thus, a song that plays at 4 a.m. does not count as much as one played at 4 p.m., and a station with a large audience will influence the chart more than either a station in a smaller market or one with a specialized format that attracts less audience.

With certain exceptions, stations tracked for Billboard by MRC Data are commercial stations.

STREAMING DATA

Billboard‘s Streaming Songs chart ranks the week’s top streamed radio songs and on-demand songs and videos on leading online music services. On-Demand Songs ranks the top on-demand play requests and plays from listener-controlled radio channels on leading music subscription services.

MIXING DATA

While many Billboard charts are either purely streaming-, radio- or sales-based, we mingle that data on a selection of charts: The Billboard Hot 100, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, Hot R&B Songs, Hot Rap Songs, Hot Country Songs, Hot Rock & Alternative Songs, Hot Alternative Songs, Hot Hard Rock Songs, Hot Latin Songs, Hot Dance/Electronic Songs, Hot Christian Songs and Hot Gospel Songs (as well as the Hot 100’s Bubbling Under chart, which ranks the top 25 titles that have not yet reached the Hot 100).

We use these three pools of data because while the consumer’s decision to purchase or stream is a significant vote of popularity, singles have a job that extends beyond being a sales vehicle: to capture radio play and streams and, hopefully, stimulate album sales.

THE CHART WEEK

Generally, charts reflect sales and airplay between Friday and Thursday of any given week. Mixed-data charts, such as the Billboard Hot 100, also use an airplay cycle of Monday through Saturday.

Charts are refreshed every Tuesday on Billboard.com and reflect the date of the Billboard issue in which they appear; online-only charts display the same corresponding date.

The printed magazine first reaches newsstands on Saturday. Each issue is dated based on the end of its publication week. Thus, the Billboard that reaches newsstands on Saturday, March 19, for example, is dated that day.

RULES AND EXPLANATIONS

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

Below is a list of awards you’ll see on various Billboard charts and their meanings.

BULLET

Where included, indicates titles with the greatest weekly gains.

HOT SHOT DEBUT

Where included, indicates a chart’s highest-ranking new entry.

GREATEST GAINER

Where included on album charts, indicates the title with the chart’s largest unit increase. Where included on airplay charts, indicates the title with the chart’s largest increase in plays or audience, depending on which data the chart utilizes.

AIRPLAY GAINER

Where included on mixed airplay, sales and streaming charts, indicates the title with the chart’s largest increase in radio audience.

SALES GAINER

Where included on mixed airplay, sales and streaming charts, indicates the title with the chart’s largest sales unit increase.

STREAMING GAINER

Where included on mixed airplay, sales and streaming charts, indicates the title with the chart’s largest increase in streaming.

AIRPOWER

Where included on airplay charts, indicates titles appearing in the top 20 of a respective format’s plays and audience rankings for the first time with increases in both plays and audience.

POWER PICK

On Dance Club Songs, indicates the title, currently below the top 20 and on the chart the week before, with the largest increase in points.

PACESETTER

Where included on album charts, indicates the title with the chart’s biggest percentage growth.

RECURRENT RULES

Descending songs are removed from the Billboard Hot 100 and Radio Songs simultaneously after 20 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 and if ranking below No. 50, or after 52 weeks if below No. 25. Descending songs are removed from Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, Hot Country Songs, Hot Rock & Alternative Songs, Hot Latin Songs, Hot Christian Songs, Hot Gospel Songs and Dance/Electronic Songs after 20 weeks if ranking below No. 25. Songs are removed from Hot R&B Songs and Hot Rap Songs, respectively, concurrent with their removal from Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.

AWARD CERTIFICATION LEVELS

ALBUM CHARTS
? Recording Industry Assn. of America (RIAA) certification for physical shipments & digital downloads of 500,000 albums (Gold).
? RIAA certification for physical shipments & digital downloads of 1 million units (Platinum). Numeral noted with Platinum symbol indicates album’s multi-platinum level.
? RIAA certification for physical shipments & digital downloads of 10 million units (Diamond). Numeral noted with Diamond symbol indicates album’s multi-platinum level.
? Latin albums certification for physical shipments & digital downloads of 30,000 units (Oro).
? Latin albums certification for physical shipments & digital downloads of 60,000 units (Platino). Numeral noted with Platinum symbol indicates album’s multi-platinum level.

 

DIGITAL SONGS CHARTS
? RIAA certification for 500,000 paid downloads and on-demand streams where 100 streams equal 1 download (Gold).
? RIAA certification for 1 million paid downloads and on-demand streams where 100 streams equal 1 download (Platinum). Numeral noted with Platinum symbol indicates song’s multi-platinum level.

 

AWARDS
PS (PaceSetter for largest % album sales gain)
GG (Greatest Gainer for largest volume gain)
DG (Digital Sales Gainer)
AG (Airplay Gainer)
SG (Streaming Gainer)