Hands up who ordered a new music chart. Anyone? Anyone at all? Bueller? Bueller? Oh, Rolling Stone did. It is launching in the US and is intended to compete with Billboard’s own charts. The big difference here is that this is designed as a daily chart rather than a weekly one and will lean more heavily on streaming data.
Jay Penske, CEO Penske Media Corporation (the owners of Rolling Stone), says this new chart “will present a transparent, granular and real-time quantification to accurately reflect listeners’ evolving interests and give insight into worldwide trends”. There will also be new charts based on the top 500 artists on streaming services, a top 25 for trending acts and another top 25 for breakthrough acts. Where it gets interesting is that the charts will be compiled by Alpha Data (previously known as BuzzAngle Music) which got investment last year from… Penske Media Corporation.
Given the centrality of the Billboard charts in the US (and their long, long history), it is going to be very difficult to shift the centre of gravity there. Of course, as new means of consumption recalibrate what a “hit” is today, then the charts have to shift to accommodate that. But Rolling Stone is a consumer title and we are left wondering who – outside of the record business – wants or needs a daily chart. Readers in the UK might now be anticipating/fearing a re-run of the time Pepsi created its own chart that merged sales with airplay and amazingly managed to run for nine years on commercial radio.