The Billboard Chart By, Bob Lefsetz

Posted on March 10, 2016 by

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It’s nearly irrelevant.

It’s a way for old school record companies to keep score…in a world where they’ve lost power and no one seems to know what’s going on.

At best the chart measures instant impact, not longevity, and it’s the latter that matters. Not the splash you make, but the waves that continue to roll in. How large is your audience, do people continue to listen, do they come to see you live, do they buy your merchandise.

And you can’t measure this utilizing an antique formula that emphasizes sales in a world of instant access. The only people buying are those who didn’t get the memo. It’d be like toting new car sales to find out how Uber is doing, it’d be like ignoring the progress of driverless cars, which are all about providing access without ownership, which is where we are going, you’re not gonna own anything, which is why GM invested in Lyft.

But SoundScan and “Billboard” have invested in nothing.

Their formula equating streams with sales… What’s that cliche, a donkey is a horse formed by committee? A stream is not a sale. A stream is a listen! There’s no listening involved in a sale, a stream is what people really do!

We’ve got charts, they’re just not the ones the media is publicizing.

We’ve got streaming charts on Spotify, broken down into genres and new viral tracks and a plethora of other categories.

We’ve got charts that reveal concert grosses.

But everybody in the industry keeps talking about the “Billboard” chart. Which does not indicate the most powerful and impactful acts in the land, it just gives a picture of whose new releases got Luddites to buy them.

And then there are idiotic acts keeping their tracks from streaming to run their album up the chart.

And analyses that you can go to number one without being on Spotify.

Listen, Adele is huge, her concert grosses are staggering, but we’ve got no idea how many people are actually listening to her new album, the “Billboard” chart doesn’t tell us that. And it’s great that the 1975 went to number one, but what does that MEAN?

But no one will create a new chart because there’s not enough money in it. Some youngster would rather create an app than deal with record companies who single-handedly did their best, however poorly, to keep the future at bay.

We live in an instant access economy.

We live in a land of data.

The “Billboard” chart is not an indicator of developing acts, and it’s not an indicator of who is dominating. It’s just a place where those from the past like to attain momentary glory as they manipulate number ones.

Ask a fan who’s number one.

That’s all that matters.

Because it’s the fans that run this business, and they’ve sided with the revolutionaries, the fans voted for YouTube, the fans buy the concert tickets and merch, the fans follow the acts online. Only in the music business do the purveyors detach themselves from their customers.

Who in this case find out about it through social media, click on it on YouTube and then expect to be able to listen to it all, right away, on Spotify and other streaming services.

Can we measure that please?

Posted in: Bob Lefsetz