Billboard Charts Legend

GENERAL INFORMATION

SALES

 

Data for Billboard's sales charts, which include all album charts are compiled by Nielsen Music 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 Nielsen Music panel.

The Nielsen Music 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 Nielsen Music, which electronically monitors radio stations in more than 140 markets across the United States. The Nielsen Music 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: Mainstream Top 40, Adult Contemporary, Adult Top 40, Alternative, Triple A, Active Rock, Heritage Rock, Mainstream Rock, Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop, Rhythmic, Adult R&B, Christian AC Songs, Gospel Songs, Dance Airplay and Smooth Jazz Songs. Others are based on audience impressions: Hot 100 Airplay, Rock Airplay, Country Airplay, Rap Airplay, Christian Songs, Latin Airplay and Latin airplay charts.

The audience charts cross-reference Nielsen Music data with listener information compiled by the Arbitron 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 few exceptions, stations tracked for Billboard by Nielsen Music are commercial stations.

 



STREAMING DATA


Billboard compiles two streaming charts. Streaming Songs ranks the week's top streamed radio songs and on-demand songs and videos on leading online music services. Hot 100 Airplay, Hot Digital Songs and Streaming Songs data is used to compile the Hot 100. On-Demand Songs ranks the top on-demand play requests and plays from unlimited listener-controlled radio channels on leading music subscription services.

 



MIXING DATA

While many of the charts in Billboard are either pure sales or radio charts, we mingle sales, radio and streaming data on a few of our signature charts: the Billboard Hot 100, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, R&B Songs, Rap Songs, Hot Country Songs, Hot Rock Songs, Hot, otDance/Electronic Songs, Hot Christian Songs and Hot Gospel Songs  (as well as two charts based on the same data feeds as the Hot 100: 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, hopefully, stimulate album sales.

These hybrid charts each use formulas to mix Nielsen Music sales with audience and streaming data. The Hot 100 utilizes the a la carte sale of downloaded tracks with sales of the few retail-available singles that are still shipped to stores. The chart also factors in streaming audio and video data (both on demand and passive) from all popular formats monitored by Nielsen Music.

ADDITIONAL CHARTS

There are a few Billboard charts that are made up of data from different sources. Here's how other charts are compiled:

Billboard's Social 50 chart ranks the most active artists on the world's leading social networking sites. Artists' popularity is determined by a formula blending their weekly additions of friends/fans/followers with artist page views and weekly song plays, as measured by Next Big Sound.

The Dance Club Songs chart is compiled from reports from a nationwide panel of club DJs, detailing the tracks that elicit the most audience response.

Billboard's Smooth Jazz Songs chart combines airplay data from stations monitored by Nielsen Music with those that submit playlist reports online.

The Christian Hot AC/CHR, Christian Rock, Christian Soft AC and Christian AC Indicator charts are compiled from playlist reports that stations playing those genres of music submit online.

THE CHART WEEK

Generally, charts reflect sales and airplay between Monday and Sunday of any given week. However, the mixed data charts, such as the Billboard Hot 100, use an airplay cycle of Wednesday through Tuesday.

Charts are refreshed every Thursday on billboard.com and billboard.biz 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 Friday. Each issue is dated based on the end of its publication week. Thus, the Billboard that reaches newsstands on Friday, March 19, for example, is dated Saturday, March 27.


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.

GREATEST GAINER/AIRPLAY 

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

GREATEST GAINER/DIGITAL 

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

GREATEST GAINER/STREAMING 

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

Descending songs are removed from Country Airplay after 20 weeks if ranking below No. 10 in detections or audience, provided that they are not still gaining enough audience points to bullet or if they rank below No. 10 and post a third consecutive week of audience decline, regardless of total chart weeks.

Descending songs are removed from Rock Airplay, Mainstream Rock, Latin Airplay and Latin Airplay charts after 20 weeks if ranking below No. 20.

Descending songs are removed from Adult Contemporary, Adult Top 40 and Adult R&B after 20 weeks if ranking below No. 15, after 26 weeks if ranking below No. 10, or after 52 weeks if ranking below No. 5.

Descending songs are removed from the Mainstream Top 40, Alternative, Triple A, Active Rock, Heritage Rock, Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop, Rhythmic, Christian Songs, Christian AC Songs, Gospel Songs, Dance Airplay and Smooth Jazz Songs charts after 20 weeks and if ranking below No. 15.


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)

 

 

 

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