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Ten Years Ago, the Digital Download Era Began on the Hot 100

Posted by Mike McCready | February 13th, 2015 | No responses

Perry Julien

On Feb. 12, 2005, digital sales began contributing to the chart, returning balance – and a bigger consumer voice – that has remained since.

It was a landmark move when it was announced and remains one of the key steps in the evolution of the Billboard Hot 100: 10 years ago today, on the chart dated Feb. 12, 2005, digital download sales began contributing to the survey.

“We have eagerly anticipated the moment when we could begin to integrate digital sales into the Hot 100,” wrote then-Billboard director of charts Geoff Mayfield in that week’s print issue.

“It has been a priority for labels, and even some music fans, that we derive more utility from digital sales data.”

“We are absolutely thrilled that the advent of digital downloads brings a viable sales component back to the Hot 100,” added Silvio Pietroluongo, who still oversees the survey (and has since added responsibilites as VP of charts and data development for Billboard and sister publication The Hollywood Reporter).

“Radio stations are programmed to reflect the wants of their listeners, but there is no substitute to measure a song’s true popularity than the purchase by a consumer,” Pietroluongo wrote. “The combination of accurate airplay data with a strong sales base further secures the Hot 100’s place as the definitive U.S. singles chart.”

The addition of paid downloads, which Nielsen Music had begun tracking in 2003, leading Billboard to start the Digital Songs chart that year, restored balance to the Hot 100, which had become heavily airplay-driven as sales of CD and cassette singles had strongly regressed by 2005. The makeover became another milestone in the history of the chart, which began on Aug. 4, 1958 as a scorecard of radio airplay and sales (of 45 RPM vinyl singles). (Earlier pop charts had also tracked jukebox popularity.)

Other noteworthy changes to the Hot 100 would keep coming, including the adoption of Nielsen-based airplay and sales numbers in 1991, replacing the decades-old methodology of lists submitted by stations and retailers. More recently, AOL and Yahoo! radio streaming was added in 2007, with an expanded array of services, including on-demand streaming, joining the mix in 2012. Video streaming, via YouTube, entered into the chart’s formula as of 2013.

As consumers began or continued to digitize their music libraries 10 years ago (on home computers plugged into walls, not yet on phones), certain songs notably benefited from the addition of download data to the Hot 100. While Mario’s “Let Me Love You” remained at No. 1 (for a seventh of nine total weeks on top), Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” jumped 16-9; Gwen Stefani’s “Rich Girl,” featuring Eve, surged 25-17; and Eminem’s “Like Toy Soldiers” vaulted 60-34.

Of course, download sales were still in the early stages of their rise in 2005. Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” topped the Feb. 12 Digital Songs chart with 36,000 downloads sold (and only the next five songs below sold more than 20,000 apiece). Ten years later, Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk!,” featuring Bruno Mars, reigns with 319,000 sold, while 36,000 in sales would place a song at No. 36 on Digital Songs this week. (And, while, 10 years ago, just six songs passed 20,000 in weekly sales, 82 did this week.)

“The addition of digital downloads to the Hot 100,” Pietroluongo summarized 10 years ago, “allows us to once again provide a voice to a constituency that Billboard has always valued: the music consumer.”



Warner Music Group Revenue Up 7%

Posted by Mike McCready | February 12th, 2015 | No responses

Warner Music Group has posted its financial results for its first financial quarter, ending December 31, 2014.

On a constant currency basis, recorded music revenue was up 8%, while total revenue grew 7%, thanks to strong holiday sales. Digital revenue was also up 14%. Digital revenue represented 35.6% of total revenue, up from 33.9% in the same period the previous year.

Music publishing revenue declined 3.3% in constant currency. Performance revenue was also down 11.8%, driven by timing of collection society distributions. Mechanical revenue declined 14.8%, driven by the ongoing industry shift from physical to digital sales. Sync revenue was down 3.8%.

Operating income was $23 million (£15m) compared to $15m (£10m) in the same quarter the year before. Net loss was $41m (£27m) compared to $36m (£23m) in the prior-year quarter. According to WMG’s report, net loss was higher as a result of increased income tax expense due to losses in some countries for which no tax benefit could be realised.

Stephen Cooper, Warner Music Group’s CEO, said: “Some strong new releases, as well as outstanding execution by our operators around the world during the holiday season, made for an excellent start to our fiscal year.

“Our extraordinary roster of songwriters and artists, combined with our first-class management team and our sustained investment in new opportunities, means that we are well-positioned to build on this success as the industry evolves.”

Added Eric Levin, Warner Music Group’s executive vice president and CFO: “We are pleased with our top line performance as well as our improved free cash flow. “We remain keenly focused on growth and managing our expenses.”


What The Music Industry Thinks Of Music Xray

Posted by Mike McCready | February 12th, 2015 | 2 Responses

We asked some in the music industry why they use Music Xray. This is what they said:


As Consumers Move to Streaming, RapidShare Announces Closure

Posted by Mike McCready | February 12th, 2015 | No responses

RapidShare, the filesharing company founded thirteen years ago, and that has persisted through challenges both legal and cultural over the years, has announced it will be closing shop on March 31, 2015. “Thank you for many years of trust,” the company’s website reads, without a hint of irony.

The company was previously sued by German rights society GEMA, and fielded a court case stateside from the porn magazine Perfect 10 (the latter of which resulted in RapidShare countersuing the magazine, accusing it of being a copyright troll).



How Satellite Radio Is Breaking Country’s Next Big Stars

Posted by Mike McCready | February 12th, 2015 | No responses

From bona fide superstars Florida Georgia Line to upstart guitarslinger Clare Dunn, SiriusXM’s the Highway is shaping country music’s future

Every day, plenty of tourists in Nashville pass by the gleaming Bridgestone Arena Tower without so much as an inkling that its upper floors house SiriusXM’s Music City studios. Right next to Lower Broadway’s strip of honky-tonks, the nerve center of popular satellite radio stations like Outlaw Country and the Highway is hiding in plain sight.



Why Cover Songs and Tribute Bands Are Big Business

Posted by Mike McCready | February 12th, 2015 | 1 Response

Poke around a digital music service for a popular song and you’ll likely find more than a few “tributes” to it—soundalike versions courtesy of faceless outfits with vague names. In the digital age, piggybacking on covers has been a popular way for artists to get attention; the success of early-adopter acts like Pomplamoose and Karmin was, in large part, predicated on the fact that these acts were switching up already popular tracks.

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Hardgroove Explores Rock Music’s Legacy And Future At H.O.T. Zone At NAMM 2015

Posted by Mike McCready | February 11th, 2015 | No responses

Anaheim, CA, February 3, 2015: During NAMM Show 2015 held last month in Anaheim, CA, audio specialist Sennheiser and Brian Hardgroove (Public Enemy) hosted three lunchtime ‘Silent Jams’ in the H.O.T. (Hands On Training) Zone, located on the second floor of the Anaheim Convention Center. Each session, produced by David Schwartz of the TEC Foundation and hosted by Brian Hardgroove, featured in-depth conversations and extended jam sessions by some of rock music’s most accomplished musicians, including Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs) and Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter (Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers).

Music Xray users can submit music to Brian Hardgroove for various opportunities here.



Check out the latest music industry jobs

Posted by Mike McCready | February 11th, 2015 | No responses

Searching for a new music industry job? A number of new vacancies have been added to the Music Week jobs page.

Have a scan through the list below and keep an eye on the jobs hub for new additions.

Royal Albert Hall is looking for a Programming Manager to join the Programming and Education & Outreach Department to deliver and oversee the diverse range of programming of live events and exhibitions. The ideal candidate will have a proven track record of working in the live events industry with agents, promoters and artists.



Pandora And BMI Face Off Today In Court Battle Over Royalty Rates

Posted by Mike McCready | February 11th, 2015 | No responses

Today in Manhattan, pioneer streaming giant Pandora is set to meet licensing agency BMI in court to settle a dispute over current royalty rates. The trial will determine how much Pandora pays BMI’s songwriters and music publishers to stream their songs. According to the New York Times, Pandora currently pays BMI 1.75 per cent of its revenue, but wants to reduce that to 1.7 per cent to match that paid by most radio stations.




Trial to determine who wrote Y.M.C.A. to begin this week

Posted by Mike McCready | February 10th, 2015 | No responses

A trial is due to begin this week to establish who wrote 24 of the Village People’s songs including Y.M.C.A.

Original band member Victor Willis won a court ruling in May 2012 to reclaim the rights to his share of the group’s songs. His royalty payments were due to increase from a 12-20% rate as a result, but he claims that as one of two songwriters, he is entitled to a 50% share.

However, Billboard reports that publishers Scorpio Music and Can’t Stop Productions believe Willis is only due a 33% share, pointing to copyright registrations indicating a third author, Henri Belolo.