While the top videos on MTV and YouTube (recently at least) have generally also been on the pop charts, the amount of popularity from video outlets hasn’t always translated into chart position. So it is great news for breakout video artists this week as Billboard joins the 21st century and starts tracking YouTube view data as part of compiling its ‘Hot 100’ list of pop music.
While for many tech-centric people this seems like a ‘no duh’ sort of decision, it wasn’t until 2012 that most of the popular videos on YouTube were commercially created rather than amateur ‘viral’ videos. And quite frankly, like most other things you need to ‘follow the money’ with Billboard when it comes to decision making.
For example, why was MTV the major force in popular music 30 years ago yet views were never counted towards Hot 100 position? Simply because those videos were created as part of a promotional campaign by the music companies, and resulted in a direct increase in sales since MTV wasn’t ‘on demand’. But with YouTube, many young viewers use it as a primary means of listening to music, and use it as a means of music discovery and sharing.
Back when the song ‘Chocolate Rain’ went viral, music labels really only cared about keeping things OFF of YouTube, seeing it as a pure negative and loss of control. But with a song like ‘Friday’, there was a demonstrated ability to monetize a video and then translate video popularity into huge iTunes sales. That happened again to an extreme extent with ‘Gangnam Style’ late last year – which again resulted in huge sales.
But by keeping YouTube at a distance and only hopping in late to grab sales, Billboard and the Hot 100 have started to look totally irrelevant to the very audience they hope to serve and influence. Harlem Shake has been huge on YouTube to the point of already being WAY ‘overdone’, and yet it is just now that it is being recognized on Billboard. Perhaps too little, too late for that song – but at least it shows an attempt at keeping current.
Billboard has a very realistic fear that more and more kids really don’t care what a bunch of old men around a table in New York have declared most popular, and instead hit up YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and more to grab the hottest stuff from their own personal ‘style influencers’. This might be the last chance for Billboard to stay in line with advancing technology … do you think it will work?
And what better way to celebrate than with the original YouTube classic ‘Chocolate Rain’: