Billboard, the leader in the music industry for charting top artists and music, has partnered with Twitter and unveiled two new charts this week - the Billboard Twitter Trending 140 and the Billboard Twitter Emerging Artists. Since its inception, Billboard has regularly developed new charts in response to changes in the music industry, specifically in the way that fans interact with and consume music. According to Mashable, music is the most discussed topic on Twitter, with around one billion music-related tweets in 2013.
Both charts are generated by tracking tweets for specific words and music-related hashtags to measure what is trending in real-time. The Billboard Twitter Trending 140 is updated hourly and is a ranking of the songs being shared and discussed the most on Twitter during the preceding hour. The Billboard Twitter Emerging Artists chart similarly measures and ranks up-and-coming artists based on song sharing and discussion over the preceding 24 hours. The main difference between the two charts is that the emerging artists chart only ranks artists who have fewer than 50,000 Twitter followers and have never had a song in the top 50 of the Billboard Hot 100.
What does all of this mean for artists?
Since the charts have just been launched, we will have to wait to see how use of the rankings develops. An article in The Guardian pointed out concerns with Billboard's new charting method. One concern is whether groups of fans might be able to manipulate the charts by tweeting collectively at the same time to get an obscure local band on a chart. Another concern is whether the algorithm used for the charts will confuse certain words and hashtags as music-related when they are not. For example, we may find a 'song' on a chart that is actually just the name of a trending viral video. Putting such concerns aside, the Billboard Twitter Trending 140 could prove to be another way to measure the strength of an artist's Twitter fan base. The chart may also be a good, real-time indicator of how an artist's new release is being received. The Billboard Twitter Emerging Artists chart could provide a bigger platform for lesser known artists who are currently trending on Twitter.
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