Adam Foster, product director for Luminate, which provides data for Billboard‘s charts, passed away Tuesday, Oct. 11, at his home in Los Angeles following a brave battle with ALS. He was surrounded by his wife Larissa, dog Dido and other loved ones, resting comfortably.
Originally from Montgomery, Ala., Foster studied at the Georgia Institute of Technology, from which he graduated in 1992. He began at Luminate (previously MRC Data, Nielsen Music / BDS) in 1994 and became the central point person in the weekly production of Luminate’s BDS, and Billboard‘s, radio airplay charts.
Foster long served as a face of BDS, literally via the “Ask Adam” feature on the BDS site’s homepage and continuously providing key information to those in the industry, even (and often) late on weekends amid close races for No. 1 ranks.
Luminate CEO Rob Jonas remembers Foster as “most notably, a friend to many. His spirit, compassion and supportive nature never went unnoticed. Many of those who got to know Adam over the years appreciated his love for music – whether at office karaoke parties or learning about his collection of Billboard print issues. They also saw his passion as a team member and the ways he was inclusive of everybody.”
“He was a great person and his dedication to the job was unmatched, especially throughout his illness. He was still taking care of our radio charts undaunted,” says Silvio Pietroluongo, Billboard senior vp of charts and data development. “Even though he was based in Los Angeles, Adam was well into his workday each Monday morning before us East Coast folks logged on, making sure data was ready for the industry to absorb.
“A true friend to all of us in the charts department.”
Guy Tino, in client support for Luminate and who worked with Foster for over two decades, shared a favorite memory on Foster’s Facebook page Oct. 12. “One particularly enjoyable rabbit hole was Adam having to rethink what he always considered his first concert: INXS, on the Listen Like Thieves tour … after his mom told him she brought him at age 7 to see John Denver. We then debated whether you should consider your first show something you picked yourself or if it was picked for you. These are very important questions for a bunch of music geeks!
“I first met him [at] a teambuilding session,” Tino further recalled. “In addition to being a voracious music fan, he also got to show off his singing and guitar playing during an impromptu jam session. I could listen to his iconic Alabama drawl all day. Any chance to hang out with Adam was a good one. He was one of the best human beings I have ever known.”
Speaking to Billboard, Tino also remembers a BDS-sponsored bowling party in Minneapolis in the 2000s with Steven Page, then of Barenaked Ladies. “I think Adam was the one who spotted Steven in the farthest lane as we were bowling our frame, hitting nothing but strikes!” he says. “When we repaired to the bar area to eat and look through the karaoke songbook, Steven came in and sat down with us. We tracked down Barenaked Ladies in the book, and the lone song available to sing was ‘One Week.’ Steven rolled his eyes and said, ‘Great, the one I didn’t write …’ Then he chose songs for us to sing, picked ‘Consider Yourself’ from Oliver! for himself and, at the end of the night, brought the house down with a tremendous run through Air Supply’s ‘Lost in Love’ before we all left. I wish I could remember what Adam performed. I’m sure it was great.
“In so many ways, he was BDS, both to us and to clients,” Tino says. “If ever there was a colleague one could aspire to be more like, it was Adam Foster.”