Oct
11

Billboard Changes Country Chart Rules, Boosts “Crossover” Songs

October 11, 2012 - By Trigger  //  News  //  79 Comments

This morning the country music world was turned on its head when Billboard, the longest-running and most respected publisher of music charts, decided it was making sweeping changes to the way singles are judged in country. The most obvious result of the new format was 3 Taylor Swift songs hopscotching dozens of others to claim the #1, #2, and #10 spots in the country chart respectively, when before her highest-charting single was mired in the teens.

From Billboard:

The Billboard brand has delivered the world’s most trusted and most widely quoted country music charts for nearly seven decades, and the exhaustive work we’ve done over the past couple of years to revolutionize our country singles charts is realized today as we launch the most comprehensive, immediate and accurate country singles rankings since our first one rolled off the presses during World War II.

How are the new rankings different? Basically, instead of solely taking into consideration airplay by radio stations, Billboard is now taking into consideration digital downloads, and plays on streaming services such as Spotify.

Previously ranked solely by Nielsen BDS-provided radio airplay data since 1990, Country Songs (and several other major format charts) is given a major consumer-influenced face-lift, as digital download sales (tracked by Nielsen SoundScan) and streaming data (tracked by Nielsen BDS from such services as Spotify, Muve, Slacker, Rhapsody, Rdio and Xbox Music, among others) will now be factored into the 50-position rankings, along with existing radio airplay data monitored by Nielsen BDS.

But where Billboard’s new format gets dicey, where Taylor Swift benefited so greatly by the new system, and where it threatens to erode the autonomy of the country format is how the country charts now consider radio play from ALL formats, not just country. In other words, so called “crossover” country stars, meaning stars like Taylor Swift who also have their music played on pop and/or rock stations, will now get credit in the Billboard ratings for those plays on the country chart.

The makeovers will enable these charts to match the methodology applied to Billboard’s signature all-genre songs ranking, the Billboard Hot 100 — including airplay from more than 1,200 stations of all genres monitored by BDS — will reward crossover titles receiving airplay on multiple formats. With digital download sales and streaming data measuring popularity on the most inclusive scale possible, it makes perfectly logical sense that the radio portion of the new chart calculations include airplay from the entire spectrum of monitored formats.

A perfect example of the result of the new rules is Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”, a song that has struggled in the country charts, but has been the best-performing country song in pop since Kenny Rogers’ “Lady”. Now it is country’s new #1. What is unclear at this point is if Billboard took into consideration that “We Are Never…” was released with two different mixes: a country mix, and a pop mix, with the pop mix being sent to radio stations as the “preferred” mix of the song.

The Long Term Effects of Billboard’s Country Chart Changes

If Billboard’s rules stay in place,the effects could be somewhere between dramatic and historic. The first and most obvious effect will be the new Billboard charts drastically favoring “crossover” country stars and other country stars with pop appeal. Taylor Swift is the beneficiary at the moment, but bands like Sugerland and Lady Antebellum could be next with new releases.

A&R personnel at record labels big and small decide what singles get released to radio, what songs to promote, what artists to sign based on very close attention to charts such as Billboard. If “crossover” artists and songs are given a new advantage on the Billboard charts, its only a matter of time before labels and artists begin to produce more songs that will attain the crossover appeal to gain more chart traction. In other words, expect even more pop-oriented country songs, more pop songs that call themselves country, and more non-country artists attempting to join the country format in an attempt to gain advantage by the new Billboard rules.

In the long run, this will erode the autonomy the country format has enjoyed since the beginning of Billboard’s charts and the inauguration of the genre, even more than what is already happening naturally with the inclusion of rap, pop, and rock in country. Billboards new rules are almost like a de-facto christening of the mono-genre.

What Billboard Got Right, and What They Got Wrong

Billboard is the most-respected and most universally-recognized publisher of music charts in the world. The reason they have stayed on top for so long and preserved their integrity is because they don’t sway to the industry, and because they strive for accuracy and fairness. In fairness to their new rules, the majority of them probably do make the country song charts a more accurate portrayal of the popularity of country singles. Spotify, Rhapsody, and digital downloads are growing in importance while radio is slowly loosing relevancy.

The spurious element of the new rules is the crossover radio play rule, and this plays out in the anomaly of having one artist’s performance do such a 360 as Taylor Swift’s did under the new format.

A rumor that has swirled around Taylor Swift for years is that her first album’s sales were unfairly bloated when a bulk purchase of albums was made, by either her family, management, or label. This has never been proven, but Billboard’s charts are not effected by such things, making them a more reliable pulse of popularity than sales numbers. Madonna ‘s last album saw bloated first week numbers that were then revised. But now that Billboard will be considering a sales element in digital downloads, this could lead to manipulations from artists, management teams, or labels that can buy downloads and effect chart performance.

Don’t Blame Taylor Swift, Blame…

Trust me when I say that Taylor Swift had nothing to do with this herself. She’s too busy picking out her favorite purple glitter eye shadow, trying to stay in tune, and counting the money she has already made. She is the huge benefactor to the new rules, but in no way was she a part of the decision. The fact that she benefits may beg the question of who truly may be either behind, or persuading the direction of the new rules. But up to this point, that has yet to be determined, and jumping to conclusions would be unfair to all parties.

Billboard is to blame, but since they got some of the new rules right, the blame is partial. People should be asking if any of the new rules came about from lobbying from labels, which ones, and why.

What Can Be Done?

I believe the reformatting of the Billboard chats could turn out to be the biggest story in country music in 2012, and could have massive reverberations on the business and sonic level. People who are against the new rules should first give Billboard credit for getting right what they did, for taking the power over the charts out of the hands of radio formatters, many who’ve been consolidated into massive corporations like Clear Channel who could unfairly dominate the charts while the general country population’s tastes reflected something completely different.

People who are concerned about the integrity of the country format should speak up and voice their concern for including crossover data in the country charts. This new format is still fresh, and Billboard is not stupid. They want their charts to be fair more than anyone else, because it is vital to their legitimacy.

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Make no mistake about it, Saving Country Music will be delving deeply into this issue in the coming days, ask the question of who decided to include crossover data and why, and what country fans can do to hopefully rectify the situation.

79 Comments to “Billboard Changes Country Chart Rules, Boosts “Crossover” Songs”

  • This is a very good idea for evaluating the overall top 100 chart, but a very bad idea for evaluating the top songs for any given genre, for exactly the reasons you mentioned. Ultimately, I think serious analysts will only use the Billboard airplay charts to evaluate the real rankings by genre.

       3 likes

    • I am going to listen to Bob Kingsley’s country top 40…Those charts come from Mediabase 24/7 and are very close to Billboard’s Hot Country Songs…Bob K did the rankings from Billboard magazine from the 1970′s til mid 200′s on his American Country Countdown…screw Billboard and use Mediabase rankings instead cause they are just as accurate as Billboard and Billboard is gonna lose their credability as country music’s chart data experts… We want country music…not pop, r&b, rap…etc.

         1 likes

  • I still don’t understand, by the way, why that “bulk purchasing” rumor is used against Taylor Swift. That rumor would be far more plausible if it were made about any of the multitudes of artists who started out on large labels that could actually afford to play such tricks, instead of an artist who started out on what was then a small independent label. (Looking at Big Machine today, it is hard to believe that just 6 years ago it was a small startup label. Taylor Swift really made Big Machine into the powerhouse it is today.)

       0 likes

    • In this case Eric, I was not using it “against” Taylor Swift, but was making the point of why Billboard has been universally-recognized as the most important chart, because such manipulations have not been possible with Billboard up to this point.

         1 likes

      • I know you were not using it against her. I was just commenting about the rumor-mongers in general and wondering why they chose to specifically target Taylor Swift.

           0 likes

        • I believe Taylor Swift is the best example of the problem with this chart. It may not be Taylor Swift’s “fault” but the changes benefit her the most. The reason she benefited from this change the most is that she has changed genre’s and the new chart does not take this into account. The reason she is #1, #2 and #10 is because her POP songs are considered country because she is with a country label. It shows that the new chart is not reflecting the genre anymore. This is true with all the new charts in all genres but ist is the obvious in the country chart. The charts just confuse genre and make the chart irrelivant.

             6 likes

        • I am shocked that you would even defend Taylor Swift at this point. She is a Pop artist masquerading as Country, and this rule was clearly designed to benefit her the most. It was “Taylor MAde” so to speak, to help pop singers with crossover hits on country. She is not remotely country and yet her Pop Dubstep songs will now chart in the top 10 on this new chart, which is a huge embarassment to country music.

          In theory, if Taylor remixes her Pop Dubstep songs to Rap, it will chart on Country Songs charts and likely hit number 1, under this new rule, as multi format airplay is taken into account.

          Do you not see the problem?

          No other country artist will hit number 1 on this chart, likely ever.

             2 likes

          • Almost all of my comments in this thread are about my disapproval of this new Billboard ranking system. Did you not read my other comments?

               0 likes

          • I Knew You Were Trouble (Taylor’s dubstep song) won’t appear on the country chart because it has not been sent to country radio. WANEGBT appeared at number one because it did receive airplay on country radio, therefore Billboard felt they had no choice but to include it.

               0 likes

          • “I Knew You Were Trouble” will chart when Red is released because of the amount of digital downloads it will receive, regardless of radio play on country or pop. It will likely be a Top 10 song.

               0 likes

  • I love the idea. Country music music consumers do use digital these days. They own computers, Iphones and such. It makes sense to add it to get a better idea of songs popularity. However i really do not get adding all the airplay. Very unfair advantage to crossover artists. Something like 60%radio(country), 30% sales, 10% streaming seems reasonable.

       2 likes

    • The problem when calculating the digital numbers is gauging how many of the digital consumers of songs by country artists are actually country music fans. If this is not taken into account, then crossover artists will get a huge unfair advantage, and furthermore any pop artist can label himself/herself “country” and immediately shoot to the top of the Billboard country charts.

         2 likes

    • Let’s see how you “LOVE THE IDEA” when Taylor Swift spends 100 weeks at number 1 on this chart, which she will. No one in country music gets her level of pop airplay, if they get any at all. No one in country music gets her level of digital downloads, ever. So she will reign at number 1 on this chart indefinitely.

      Miranda Lambert was bumped from 9-16 this week due to Taylor swift. How is that fair?

      If you are a Taylor fan, of course you would love this idea. But everyone else will hate it once they realize its full ramifications.

      I don’t think it has sunk into to people yet– but it will. Just watch the charts for a few months and see how happy it makes you. :)

         1 likes

      • The vast majority of Taylor fans wish the rules hadn’t been changed now. A backlash right before her album release is not helpful, and she clearly wasn’t chasing a country number one with a Max Martin pop song.

           0 likes

  • Good analysis. I don’t have a problem with radio play across all formats being considered – crossover success is relevant.

    However, Billboard are deciding independently, on a song-by-song basis, whether a single is “country” or not, and they’ve screwed up in the very first week. While a great pop song, WANEGBT is not country. A country mix of the song was produced for radio, but Scott Borcetta (to his credit for once) told Billboard at the iHeart Festival that they didn’t make the country mix available for download because it was just pandering to a country audience. The pop mix was how Swift intended the song to sound.

       2 likes

    • “However, Billboard are deciding independently, on a song-by-song basis, whether a single is “country” or not, and they’ve screwed up in the very first week.”

      This is the fundamental problem. Billboard should not be in the business of deciding whether or not a song is “country”. That should be the prerogative of country music fans, through country-specific media.

         1 likes

    • We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together is a horrible pop song too. It is mostly her “talk singing” that she does, not actual singing. It is cheesy bubble gum tween pop drivel at its best, and belongs more on the Disney radio charts then Adult charts. She is 23, writing 13 year old girl songs about boys.

         1 likes

  • I will add that as much of a Taylor Swift fan that I am, I still believe that WANEGBT being on the top of the Billboard country chart is an absolute travesty. It is probably the least “country” song to have ever topped the country chart, and it serves as an immediate glaring case-in-point of the defects in the new Billboard country chart formula.

       3 likes

    • If I were Taylor Swift, I would not want WANEGBT being #1 in country right now. It will only bring the song, her upcoming album, and her career even more scrutiny than it already is from country fans. It could also instigate the “overexposure” issue she was having around Kanye-gate, where people get tired of hearing all about one person.

         3 likes

  • Very well-written article. Crossover SHOULD NOT be considered. That is just ridiculous and the fact that WANEGBT is #1 on the country chart shows just how that idea DOESN’T WORK.

       2 likes

  • To be fair, Billboard will continue to release a Country Airplay chart each week on Mondays that is based solely on airplay on their panel of country radio stations. This new chart is an additional tool radio programmers can use as they see fit.

    As a country radio programmer, at this time I don’t see it as something that will be of much use to me. In fact, all the charts combined figure less than 50% of my decision process.

    Charts should reflect stations’ playlists, not vice versa.

       0 likes

    • Having multiple charts to reference only diminishes the importance of each chart for country fans.

      I appreciate your perspective of a radio professional. This is very helpful. And I think this is the point of the Airplay chart, to be an industry tool. The “Country Chart” should be something for every country fan.

         1 likes

      • Thanks, triggerman, for a really well-thought out commentary. In fact, I had just finished a post of my own about the subject to prevew the “chart sweeps” I do every week on my blog, and I pretty much came to most of the same points as well. I know the magazine is trying to be “fair” and “accurate”, but the results I fear you are spot on about, where song placement into a genre (I asked, they can be put in multiple genres) are both subjective and fallible, not just in the country milieu, but more ambiguously on the rock and R&B charts, where distinctions are even more vague. And yes, the biggest fear is homogenization of music for profit, because even beyond art this IS a business, and some artists will really suffer from this.

        Sean, I appreciate your take as a music professional. Since I’m just a “Chart Geek” and a music lover, I have no skin in the game myself. I’m sure like you mentioned it may have the effect of diluting the charts value to radio, since the “Airplay” chart seems to result in “asterisking” achievements of core country artists in the name of blind statistics.

        I know it would be just alchemy to attempt to estimate sales into a “genre intent”, but as of now I admit I’m concerned of the future of country music as well as any other type of music. A thought maybe came to my head of using a percentage of country airplay to overall airplay towards the sales/streaming numbers, but I think at this late hour I’m just hallucinating.

        Cheers,
        Ernie (twostepcub)

           0 likes

  • I completely agree with everything that you had to say. While the idea of including digital downloads is the right move, the way it’s being executed is so wrong. My main concern is what this means for acts like Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, George Strait, Blake Shelton, and many more, that do not have the pop crossover appeal. They have no chance of ever getting a #1 under the new rules. Instead, they’ll be relegated to the Country Airplay chart that has no baring on the Hot Country Songs chart.

    The new way of doing things will be such a misleading representation of what is actually happening in Country Music. Such a sad day. I hope Country acts realize what is happening and speak out against it.

       4 likes

  • My concern is for the true country artists. Take a look at who took the biggest fall: Toby Keith, Miranda Lambert, Easton Corbin, Alan Jackson. Also, Jana Kramer was on the cusp of her first #1 and now she’s dropped to 11. I know for my local country radio plays the heck out of “Why you Wanna”.
    My other concern is for the older country fans, like me, who do not download or listen to spotify but saves their hard earned money to buy CD’s and listen to country radio. Will we truly get a voice when pop genres are considered?
    Also, does this mean that the current trend of the rock and roll/pop song with the country twang will continue but pushed even more as record labels fight for the almighty dollar? This is so sad.

       1 likes

    • Good point. This new format diminishes the influence of people’s dollars who still buy physical copies of music. And lets not overlook: digital downloads are on a big rise, but so is vinyl. Those sales numbers will not be reflected in the new charts. Mostly tech-savvy younger folks who tend to buy music from more rock and pop-oriented country acts download music, while traditional country fans still buy CDs and vinyl. This will skew the chart towards pop even more.

         2 likes

    • Carrie Underwood is the first direct casualty of this new “Taylor Made” Swifty rule. I do not think that is a coincidence either.

      What concerns me and intrigues me is this: Why change the chart rule in the middle of the Billboard year, instead of waiting til lthe new Billboard year begins in November? hmmm. Awfully suspicious timing.

      They did it just in time to break Carrie’s streak of #1 hits as her song is poised to hit #1 on Billboard Hot country songs on Monday. But instead, all she will get is an Airplay chart number 1 since she can’t compete with Taylor’s Pop airplay of “We Are never ever getting back together.” so this rule directly robbed Carrie of a number 1 she had been working hard for – for months.

      It negates all the fans calling into radios and requesting songs. All radio polls are meaningless now.

      The country fans spoke loud and clear– and they said a big Hell No to Taylor’s Bubble gum pop song, “WANEGBT.” It tanked on country radio at 13, and died. Yet here it is, back from the Dead, and number 1….screwing over Carrie and everyone else.

      Carrie is the 1st victim: Miranda and others will be next.

         9 likes

      • Hey Theresa! I totally understand your frustration, and I’m still wracking my brain as well, but I do honestly think that the magazine didn’t purposefully make this change this particular week to promote or punish any particular artist, especially Carrie. In fact, I think while in this instance her song was “robbed” of a possible #1 (though the airplay wasn’t quite there yet), she’s one of the acts that really if you think about it have MORE of an unfair advantage with the new system, since she’s been really successful for crossing over to pop radio herself. Think about it, if this was in place a few years back, how long would “Before He Cheats” would have remained on the charts? And five of her other singles were moderate hits on Adult Pop radio as well. (I’m happy about that) Who really would lose is those like Miranda Lambert who really don’t make crossover-style music (not a judgement, just an observation).

        My two cents.
        Cheers
        Ern

           1 likes

      • They aren’t just changing the country chart it’s R&B and hip-hop as well. Do you really think Billboard decided to change the r&B chart to screw over Carrie Underwood? Rihanna’s new single shot up the charts too because of this.

           1 likes

  • Well, considering Billboard has nearly no effect on the independent country artists or independent artists of any “genre”, it’s of little concern to most people I know.

    It does do one thing that could possibly be helpful though. The more everything sounds the same, the more it carves out a niche and market for something that doesn’t sound like that. It could be a really positive thing for smaller/independent artists that honestly don’t have a shot at chart success but can still make good recordings and profit by performing live and getting the occassional placement.

    Billboard is a nice affirmation that people enjoy music that you also enjoy, but not necessary to recognize good music itself. Make sense?

       0 likes

    • This is a copied response to a similar comment

      I respectfully disagree. When Will Hoge was listed as the songwriter on a #1 song on Billboard’s chart a few weeks back, it was the biggest thing that every happened to his career.

      http://www.americansongwriter.com/2012/07/will-hoge-congratules-himself-on-1-hit/

      Another example is Kacey Musgraves, who I just wrote about this week, and her song that was threatening to crack the top 30. Now it likely has no chance.

      http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/song-review-kacey-musgraves-merry-go-round

      When albums from Cody Canada, Jason Eady, Hank3, Shooter Jennings, and many others from the independent/underground country world have cracked the charts, it gives these albums, songs, and artists unprecedented exposure in a part of the music business they would otherwise be completely ignored in.

      With the new Billboard rules, it is less likely we will see these type of events. The one place an independent/Red Dirt/underground country artist can get a fair shake and the industry had no say so was the charts. Now, that is not true for songs.

         1 likes

      • I think from now on, people who actually care about country music will only pay attention to the Billboard country airplay chart. The updated country chart has been widely panned even by mainstream country music fans, and I think it has lost all credibility in the country music world.

           2 likes

      • I know what you’re saying, but, I’m also being realistic, and I wasn’t speaking to the top tier of the smaller artists.
        We charted for two weeks with the last 78s record, and that was great, like a notch on a belt, but the impact is minimal. Going out and playing shows every night has a much greater impact, in my opinion, but I think you knew that about how I think.
        the farther things get away from where they should be, the closer they are to being sorted out is my way of thinking, and if I’m wrong, I’m willing to lose while striving for it. Always have been that way, always will be.

           1 likes

  • I hate it. It screws over the whole country genre.

    Who buys the most downloads and promo singles..Taylor fans.
    Taylor is the only who abuses the “promo” songs in country.

    No other country artist puts out their singles before the cd. So right there taylor can have 10 #1′s before her cd is even released?

    And that adds to the validaty of George Strait who has 45 #1′s and now one person can break that in 4 years if they decide, hey I’m just going to skip making cd’s, I’m going to upload and sell my songs on I-tunes, and beg for people to buy it.

       6 likes

  • This is effecting R&B, Rock and Country. If this does stand then country music the home of some of the best singer-songwriters in all of genres will be almost entirely represented on the charts by teen angst songs. It also starts an interesting movement of who is really in what genre.

       3 likes

  • I’ve always thought billboard was rigged.

       1 likes

  • Frankly, I think it is meaningless in terms of Americana, Texas/Red Dirt and other roots music scenes. I haven’t paid any attention to charts in years.

       0 likes

    • Me either

         0 likes

    • I respectfully disagree. When Will Hoge was listed as the songwriter on a #1 song on Billboard’s chart a few weeks back, it was the biggest thing that every happened to his career.

      http://www.americansongwriter.com/2012/07/will-hoge-congratules-himself-on-1-hit/

      Another example is Kacey Musgraves, who I just wrote about this week, and her song that was threatening to crack the top 30. Now it likely has no chance.

      http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/song-review-kacey-musgraves-merry-go-round

      When albums from Cody Canada, Jason Eady, Hank3, Shooter Jennings, and many others from the independent/underground country world have cracked the charts, it gives these albums, songs, and artists unprecedented exposure in a part of the music business they would otherwise be completely ignored in.

      With the new Billboard rules, it is less likely we will see these type of events. The one place an independent/Red Dirt/underground country artist can get a fair shake and the industry had no say so was the charts. Now, that is not true for songs.

         0 likes

  • What was Billboard thinking? I cannot believe it. As if the artists on the Hot 100 weren’t getting enough credit already, now they can just say that a song is country and have it go #1 on the Hot Country Songs chart. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together never should have been released to country radio. Taylor’s music is great, if she would just admit that it just isn’t country anymore and hasn’t been since her first album. The new rules are going to deny the artists that work their butts off to produce true, down-home country music any chance at receiving a number one. Next thing we know, Rihanna and Bruno Mars will be releasing “country” songs too. I am beyond disappointed with Billboard.

       3 likes

  • Great Article! I am so upset by this! This Rule Affects EVERYONE in country music negatively except TAYLOR SWIFT, and it is so infuriating!

    Bold Prediction: Taylor will dominate this new chart for most of the next year, as no one has pop airplay like she does– not even Lady A as their pop crossover success is sporadic. Carrie refuses to pop remix so she is screwed too.

    I am positive Scott Borchetta, head of Big Machine, is partially behind this as the timing is highly suspicious. He is close friends with Bill Werde of Billboard, and I can see the dollar signs spinning in Borchetlta’s bloated head already.

    Red Flag: Taylor Swift’s Album drops in 2 weeks, and her latest pop drivel “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” flopped on country radio at 13, as it should have- since it was a truly dreadful pop song, note remotely country. Now it is suddenly #1, pushing well deserving country songs down the charts, including Miranda, Carrie, and others. Hmmm. could it be that they wanted a big press release just in time for her album release to create buzz? Methinks so.

    Scott Borchetta would sell his soul to make a buck. He is one of the reasons the country music industry is doing downhill. While Taylor may not be DIRECTLY responsible, do not underestimate her. She is a very business saavy, calculating, smart aggressive woman. I do not believe she was naive of these changes- not for one minute.

    HERE ARE THE DIRECT CASUALTIES SO FAR:

    1. Carrie Underwood already got ROBBED by the new rule as it took affect 3 days before her latest hit, Blown AWay, was supposed to hit #1 on Billboard Hot country songs chart. It is now going to get screwed out of the number 1 by Taylor’s pop bubble gum dubstep songs, as only Taylor has Pop Airplay to beat every country star to the #1 slot. Now Carrie’s streak of 13 number 1 hits will be over forever, due to this new “Taylor Made” rule.

    2. Miranda Lambert and Carrie both REFUSE to pop remix, so they are basically screwed by this new rule.Miranda’s song dropped 9-16 this week on the Hot Country songs chart as she has no pop airplay and does not do as well in the Digital downloads as Taylor (who does? She sells to tween pop bieber fans).

    3. Brad Paisley is not about to remix to pop or sell his soul for digital downloads. He is a true country artist and he will be greatly disadvantaged by these rules as he does not pander to pop radio.

    4. George Strait’s streak of 55 number 1 hits on Billboard County Songs is now over. All he can get is Airplay number 1s, but he will NEVER get a Hot country songs chart number 1 again. Do you honestly believe George Strait will REMIX TO POP and fight with Taylor’s fans for digital download sales? please… Poor George cannot compete with Tween Pop Bieber fans either.

    5. Alan Jackson has no chance on this chart. He is not going to pander to pop and he is not a big digital download seller. He will never get a number 1 on this chart. Ever.

    6. Can anyone imagine Josh Turner remixing his songs to Pop radio? LMAO

    The list goes on and on.

    Bottom line: I smell a Rat in Nashville all the way in NY where I live, and it looks suspiciously like Scott Bullsh***a.

    Please let’s joint together to stop this travesty.

       8 likes

    • The other artists helped were Rihanna and PSY, also with UMG (Big Machine’s distributor). This reeks of foul play. Of course, Taylor fans won’t admit it, but the clear reason is Big Machine wants their cash cow’s streak of hits to continue forever.

         3 likes

    • I agree that from the outside looking in, Scott Borchetta’s fingerprints look like they are all over this thing. But at this point, we have no evidence in that direction. I think folks should be tireless in attempting to determine exactly how Billboard came to the decision to include crossover song play. I know I am going to be.

         1 likes

      • Maybe I’m naive, but I’m not convinced as yet about a nefarious reason for the change. I’m sure Werde has connections with most of the big dogs in the business, and it’s not like Carrie’s on an indie. And changes like this for them I know take months of research as well as test charts before they roll it out. They can’t spin in just on a dime.

        I will concede to one item, though, about the timing. Usually when there are changes this big, they happen in November when their “chart year” changes over. Like the change to BDS/Soundscan. Like the inclusion of digital sales and nonphysical singles to the charts. This particular one was a little early. Unless they wanted to do it before the real fourth quarter release rush goes into high gear.

        Just my 2cents again.

           1 likes

      • I don’t think there’s a conspiracy to be found here.

           0 likes

  • Some country fans on Twitter started a Petition. Even if it changes nothing, it feels good to do something. If interested, please sign:

    Jason ♫™‏@JasontheGleek

    PETITION: @Billboard – Stop the Use of Multi-Format Airplay in Determining ‘Hit’ Country Songs http://www.change.org/petitions/billboard-hot-country-songs-chart-stop-the-use-of-multi-format-airplay-in-determining-hit-country-songs?share_id=LuRxlfwplQ&utm_campaign=twitter_link&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=share_petition&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=twitter

       7 likes

  • We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out – I’m hoping Billboard f***s up and makes her new dubstep single the number one song. If that happens, I guarantee you there will be significant backlash, and not just from Carrie fans – even the worst of the pop-country acts and fans would see it as a travesty because it doesn’t scan as country in even in a pop, rap, or contemporary sense.

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    • It has received no country airplay so won’t be included. Werde has said that not all tracks on Taylor’s album would be classed as country by Billboard.

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  • Eric- well said. If the Taylor Pop Dubstep song hits number 1 on the new charts due to its digital download sales– that may be the last straw for even Taylor supporters at radio, etc.

    I wish Country radio would take a stand and refuse to play her pop crap. That would help push her airplay down on country radio anyway. We can’t stop her on Pop or stop her digital download sales, but country radio could band together and stop giving her any airplay at all in country.

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    • Country radio has already refused to play WANEGBT, and that song isn’t even in the top 30 in country airplay currently. The problem with this new Billboard methodology is that country radio airplay has absolutely zero effect on the ranking. A song by a self-professed “country” artist can simply make it to #1 on the “country” chart based entirely on pop radio airplay, even if country radio stations do not play it at all.

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      • Therein lies the problem right there. Even if Country Radio refuses to play Taylor’s songs— her pop airplay and digital sales will be enough to give her number 1s on this chart every week.

        Just wait till her album drops in 2 weeks. Her digital sales will skyrocket, so she will be numbers 1-10 on the Hot Country Songs chart, for songs that are not even radio singles yet. Sickening.

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      • I’m not sure that that’s true. Country airplay is considered by Billboard when deciding whether or not to class a song as country. WANEGBT obviously wasn’t a country hit but did receive airplay.

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        • I meant that country radio alone no longer is relevant to the country chart rankings. Only all-radio airplay will be considered.

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  • It’s also no coincidence that Scott Borchetta signed a deal with Clear Channel a few weeks ago for Big Machine to get radio performance royalties across multi-genre formats.

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  • Why not just give fake a$$ “pop country” her own category(Taylor swift, etc.) and leave real country as its own category. Makes more sense if they want to be more “fair” or “accurate”.

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  • You are the hero that country music deserves, and the one it needs right now. I’m a Taylor Swift fan, but I can recognize this as an absolute disgrace. How could this be remotely fair? This just incentivizes musicians or their producers to make music fitting to the mono-genre.

    Triggerman what can we do?

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  • I believe Taylor Swift is the best example of the problem with this chart. It may not be Taylor Swift’s “fault” but the changes benefit her the most. The reason she benefited from this change the most is that she has changed genre’s and the new chart does not take this into account. The reason she is #1, #2 and #10 is because her POP songs are considered country because she is with a country label. It shows that the new chart is not reflecting the genre anymore. This is true with all the new charts in all genres but ist is the obvious in the country chart. The charts just confuse genre and make the chart irrelivant.

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    • Begin Again and even Red are both more country than a lot of stuff on country radio.

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      • Red is about as country as I am a professional wrestler. I bought it for my daughter(teenager)..The songs are Pop music, not country. This is a joke by billboard. Good thing is I go and check the music out before I buy for myself. Just because they list it as number one, doesnt mean its number one. Taylor Swift is a pop artist, plain and simple.

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  • i actually read about this somewhere else first and really loved the idea of digital downloads and streams taking power away from corporate country radio but completely missed the cross genre radio part of it. im really against the idea that artists that present themselves as country can be vetoed and denied entrance but a dubstep pop single being a top ten country hit is so wrong. dont have anything to add to the conversation im just at a complete loss as to how anyone could think that merging all playlists would be a good idea for individual genres.

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    • But there is no dubstep pop song in the country top 10?!

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      • question is that?!

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  • You guys! Why are people so judgmental these days! Why blame all of these to Taylor and her management? This is Billboard’s decision! WTF! Billboard wants this chart system to be more fair by adding up sales and streaming. Hot Country Songs Chart reflects the songs’ popularity and popularity doesn’t only mean airplay. Taylor is still Country and she will always be. She doesn’t want to leave Country with WANEGBT so she decided to make a country mix of the song to please her Country fans. That’s how loyal she is to country. She doesn’t want to go all pop! She just wants to try experimenting Country with other genres. And that makes her a TRUE ARTIST. An artist should be versatile. That makes her countrier than any country acts today. She is trying to introduce Country to other audiences. Country is changing. MUSIC is changing.

    Why can’t some country fans see that….?????? That’s why Taylor is very famous. I’ve always thought Country fans are the most supportive fans ever. Why can’t you guys support Taylor’s effort to make a change? There will always be artists who will continue to make traditional country songs. CHART RANKINGS are irrelevant to me. These are just numbers. If a song is good, it will be recognized no matter what.

    I know this is a bit off topic but I just can’t stand some of you who always keep on bashing Taylor’s music. That’s just not right! :(((((((

    SUPPORT YOUR FAVES if you want them to reach no. 1! If their songs are good then they will be sent on Pop radios too. Country should be a WW genre! Don’t set limitations.

    That’s all. Thank you for reading this rant message.

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    • I would just like to point out the big “Don’t Blame Taylor Swift” heading in the article above. I know you may have been referring to commenters too. Listen, I tend to agree blaming Taylor Swift for this is a little short-sighted, but think about how you would feel if Taylor was slighted by a system that is clearly slated against her and askew to all logical reasoning? People are mad and I don’t blame them. And in the end, I think this could hurt Taylor Swift. She doesn’t need more exposure, she needs to manage the exposure she is already getting or it will turn to backlash. Hence the comments you see.

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      • I agree. I don’t want to be the voice of doom, but I can see the country establishment turning their back on Taylor. Speak Now didn’t receive any award love last time around. I hope her album caters for the country section of her fanbase.

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    • “She doesn’t want to leave Country with WANEGBT so she decided to make a country mix of the song to please her Country fans.”

      Look, I am a Taylor Swift fan, but this argument just doesn’t fly. WANEGBT is fundamentally a pure pop song, and even the country mix of the song still makes it the least “country” song to have ever topped the Billboard country chart.

      A better argument for your case would be something like this: She doesn’t want to leave Country with WANEGBT so she decided to release Begin Again to please her Country fans.

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      • good point, and #2) if it WAS Taylor’s decision hypothetically to please country fans, wouldn’t the song be available in the country mix to buy on iTunes?

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    • I have absolutely no issue with Taylor or any other artist releasing a pop song. I applaud her for exploring different avenues. I do take issue with Billboard declaring it a number one country song. It is simply not a big hit with country audiences as evidenced by its lack of radio play on that format. It is a big hit with pop fans and it deserves a number one on that chart(which i believe it already has) but not on the country chart. I believe the country audience should decide what they accept as country not Billboard and not the pop audience.

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      • I’m not happy with WANEGBT reaching number one either. But the song did receive some country airplay and charted on the old version of the country chart too.

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  • Trig, I get your point of how chart position, that is under the new rules, most likely not going to be possible for folks like Cody Canada and others you mentioned on Billboard going foward. I beleive that with the advent and growing popularity of internet radio, social media, streaming and download services that pay royalities.That other avenues exist that do not rely on Billboard charting to take advanatge of and to reach potential fans with your music. Not to mention good old fashoined word of mouth that happens one gig at a time. I’m not even saying these changes are fair and right. It’s just that we now have many ways to make and end run around them and reach fans in other ways that the Nashville machine can do nothing about.

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    • “That other avenues exist that do not rely on Billboard charting to take advanatge of and to reach potential fans with your music. Not to mention good old fashoined word of mouth that happens one gig at a time. I’m not even saying these changes are fair and right. It’s just that we now have many ways to make and end run around them and reach fans in other ways that the Nashville machine can do nothing about.

      But that’s EXACTLY why Billboard changed the rules as they did to take into consideration new formats like internet radio and social media, to diminish the end around that was developing around their charts, to re-integrate that consumer interest. But in the long run, this will only benefit the biggest of biggest music superstars.

      I am glad that you have avenues to find good music, that is great. I want to open those avenues to everyone, and one of the ways to do that is through equitable charts.

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  • [...] dollar project, on which dozens of livelihoods reportedly depend, could be a single, as new rules set by Billboard indicate; every song was designed as a multiformat crossover sensation. That’s the trouble. [...]

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  • The bottom line is Billboard just screwd up royally. Swift is a pop singer. She chose country to get her foot in the door as country fans are always infatuated with young female singers. Just look at the low number of female country singers that get at the top of the charts. Miranda, Carrie, Martina and Faith every once in awhile. Swifts managment team knew exactly what they were doing. If she says she is county, Billboard buys it without even listening to the songs. Country radio stations are not playing these songs, but Billboard doesnt have a clue. It makes her look like a great country singer and she is anything but that. Billboard has lost all credibility with me.

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    • You’ve got it backward. Young female singers have always been dominant in pop, but very much underrepresented in country. Mainstream country has always been dominated by middle-aged male singers, catering to a middle-aged and older audience. Look at the Entertainer of the Year nominees over the last 3 years: with the exception of Taylor Swift, they have been almost entirely male. Furthermore, Taylor Swift’s lyrical themes were a poor fit for the country fan base when she entered. She was told repeatedly by people on Music Row that she wouldn’t fit into country because her songs would not appeal to “middle-aged housewives”.

      Despite all this, she still pushed on with her goal to become a country singer, because of her love of country music, especially the storytelling that the genre is based on. If you look at her first album, you will find that it is more country than the vast majority of songs currently on country radio. Over the years, she has lost interest in the musical style of country, but she has stayed true to the storytelling concept.

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      • Eric, I am not saying she doesnt want to be country, but lets face it, her albums are not country, they are pop at best. The artists that I consider country are Miranda, Carrie, Faith etc..Country music is male dominated, I agree whole heartedly with that and I am sure it always will be. Until TS shows that she can put out an album that is country instead of pop, I wont consider her a country music artist. She reminds me of the way Olivia Newton-John got mixed into country.

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        • Please take a listen to Taylor’s debut album. It’s far more country than anything Carrie Underwood is releasing these days.

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          • That’s just silly.

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          • It’s a fact. Almost every song on Taylor’s debut album is much more country than “Good Girl” or “Blown Away”. You’ll be surprised at how traditional the instrumentation in that album is.

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  • @Eric – Oh, I thought you were talking about Red. Misread on my part. I haven’t listened to her debut, nor do I intend to, but I think it is her only album that was based more on country or country-pop than pop. But comparing it to Carrie’s latest album is more like comparing apples to oranges – country music in 2006 or 2007 was quite different than it was now, with more overt country influences to me.

    If you compare Red and Blown Away, however, you have a different story. I’m not a huge fan of Blown Away as a whole, but there are 4 or 5 country-leaning songs and a bunch more that are either country-pop or country lyrically, such as “Blown Away”.

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