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How Billboard Formulated the New Global Charts

Billboard's international editor, Alexei Barrionuevo, discusses Billboard's two new global charts with the team that led their development.

Billboard and MRC Data launched two Global Charts on Monday, creating the first authoritative charts ranking the top songs in the world. Powered by MRC Data/Nielsen Music and the newly created Music Connect, a music measurement and analytics platform, the charts will rank the top songs based on worldwide streams and download sales.

The two new charts — the Billboard Global 200, which includes worldwide songs, and Billboard Global Excluding U.S. —  will rank songs based on streaming and sales activity culled from more than 200 territories around the world. The chart rankings will be based on a weighted formula incorporating official-only streams on both subscription and ad-supported tiers of leading audio and video music services, plus download sales from top music retailers across the globe.

Leading the inaugural Billboard Global 200 is “WAP” by Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion, while the first Billboard Global Excl. U.S. is ruled by Maluma’s “Hawái.”


The full charts will be made available on Billboard.com on Tuesday, and be published every Tuesday going forward. For both charts, the top 100 songs are featured on Billboard.com, while the complete 200-title rankings are visible on Billboard Pro, Billboard’s subscription-based service.

Billboard‘s international editor, Alexei Barrionuevo, discussed the new charts with the team that led their development: Silvio Pietroluongo, senior vp charts & data development; Helena Kosinski, vp MRC Data – global; Keith Caulfield, senior director of charts; and Gary Trust, senior director of charts.

Why did it take so long for someone to establish a global chart?

It’s all about the availability of the data. And having the various streaming and digital retail services willing to participate and provide data. It’s not an easy task and we’re extremely proud to be able to present the first-ever authoritative, multi-service, ranking of the top songs in the world.

How long has this project been in the works? Could you describe the level of investment in financial and human resources to put the charts together?

Billboard and MRC Data have been discussing the idea of global charts with the industry and data providers for more than two years now. We really began making significant progress over the last 12 months, getting buy-in from the various digital services and arriving at a methodology that the industry could back.

Can you explain the reasoning behind choosing to have two charts, one including the U.S. and one excluding it?

One of the goals for this project was to expose people to music from multiple territories. So having each chart go 200 titles deep and also presenting a view of titles excluding U.S. influence was of great importance to us.

How will these charts impact the music world?

Our hope is that the power of the Billboard and MRC Data brands will bring overdue exposure and recognition for acts from multiple territories.

Tell us About MRC Data’s Global Music Connect. What can the industry see and how will that be beneficial to them?

Global Music Connect is a comprehensive measurement and analytics platform that provides streaming and sales data for any artist and song. With this holistic view of the global music industry, Music Connect allows clients to dive deep into datasets to uncover insightful metrics, identify trends and track and compare performance across markets to help make informed decisions, be it in A&R, deal valuation, marketing, promotions and more.

There have been concerns expressed in the German courts recently, and in other parts of the world, about the increasing prevalence of fake streams that call into question whether consumers can trust the information on music streaming platforms. How will Billboard gird against any outside manipulation or fraud that would affect the credibility of the Global Charts?

Billboard and MRC Data have worked closely with our data providers to implement various audit guidelines to limit any significant effect of manufactured streams. In addition, each data provider has their own safeguards in place to recognize fraudulent behavior and catch it before it gets to their data partners, including Billboard and MRC Data.

What were the challenges to putting charts like this together, with so many countries involved? Can you discuss in which countries and regions you encountered the most hurdles? (How, for example, did you navigate all the regional and language differences in India, a country that has struggled for years to put together a national chart?)

Our initial path to launch involved working with the streaming services that have a global presence, such as Apple, Spotify, Tidal and YouTube, among others. With their inclusion, we have over 200 territories represented in the ranking, including India and a good portion of the Asian markets. Getting the local or regional services to be willing to share data or to be transparent enough with that data to meet our reporting requirements is something we knew would take a bit longer to achieve. We firmly believe that the launch of the chart will spur many of the holdouts to contribute to better reflect the success of their homegrown acts and the power of their services.

In creating these charts did Billboard/MRC Data have to adjust its methodology to account for the different realities of data collection or other factors in different parts of the world? 

Both chart rankings are based on a weighted formula incorporating official-only streams on both subscription and ad-supported tiers of audio and video music services, as well as download sales, the latter of which reflect purchases from full-service digital music retailers from around the world, with sales from direct-to-consumer (D2C) sites excluded from the charts’ calculations.

We collaborated with the industry to create a unique, revenue-reflective methodology taking the global market into account. The Billboard Global 200, which includes U.S. data, has a slightly different methodology than Billboard Global Excluding U.S. because of the revenue influences represented in each ranking.
For the Billboard Global 200:
One Track Sale = 200 Premium Streams = 900 Ad-Supported
*The Ad-Supported to Premium stream ratio is 4.5 to 1

The ranking will be presented based on stream equivalent units using the following formula:
(Tracks * 200) + Premium Streams + (Ad-Supported Streams / 4.5)

For Billboard Global Excluding U.S.:
1 Track Sale = 250 Premium Streams = 1125 Ad-Supported
*The Ad-Supported to Premium stream ratio is also 4.5 to 1

The ranking will be presented based on stream equivalent units using the following formula:
(Tracks * 250) + Premium Streams + (Ad-Supported Streams / 4.5)

How many total data points is Billboard/MRC collecting to compile these charts?

The Chart rankings are based on a weighted formula incorporating official-only streams on both subscription and ad-supported tiers of leading audio and video music services, plus download sales from top music retailers across the globe.

Are streaming totals and album sales adjusted for local currency or are all numbers being calculated using US$ dollars?

The rankings are not based on a monetary figure, specifically. It’s a revenue-reflective formula which presents the final rankings in streaming equivalent units, where track sales and ad-supported streams are weighted to represent paid streams using a blended global revenue figure. The math would work the same using U.S. dollars or any other currency.

Any predictions on whether the Global Chart will help artists from other countries in non-English languages become global superstars? Which region do you think this could be most likely to happen in?

The charts are a reflection of what music fans are consuming. The international representation on the Billboard Hot 100 has increased over the past couple of years because of how music is distributed globally via streaming services, with fans having unlimited access to music from all over the world. What the Global charts will do is help expose and celebrate who the global superstars are, providing opportunities for these acts to expand their fan base far beyond language and geography.

Ed. Note: This post has been updated to reflect how Billboard counts download sales on its global chart.