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YouTube Era Creates New Metric For Billboard's 'Top 100'


To music, and the number one song in America.


GONYEA: The song is "Harlem Shake" and it's by a DJ who calls himself Baauer - that's with two As. And this week it shot to number one on the Billboard Hot 100, the most watched ranking in the music biz. But if you turn on the radio, you might not actually hear the song. Baauer's "Harlem Shake" has taken the top spot mostly because of views on YouTube. This week, Billboard - for the first time - started to incorporate those views into its Hot 100 formula. The guy behind those changes is Silvio Pietroluongo. He's the director of charts at Billboard magazine. Hi, Silvio.

SILVIO PIETROLUONGO: Hi, Don. How are you?

GONYEA: Good, good. So, why the changes? Why start using YouTube?

PIETROLUONGO: Well, we always try to go where people are consuming music historically, and we've been doing this for decades now. And there's no denying the effect that YouTube is having on music and popular culture.

GONYEA: When you say you've always adapted to modern times, I mean, if we go way, way, way back, I understand you used to count sheet music sales.

PIETROLUONGO: Yeah. That was the first charts, and then it was jukebox, airplay sales, vinyl, cassette, CDs, and then we moved into ringtones and digital downloads. And we've had streaming in the Hot 100 for about five or six years, so this is just a continuance of increasing the pool of streamers that we have on the chart.

GONYEA: Explain exactly what's happening with "Harlem Shake." It wasn't even on the charts and now it's number one. How do you get that big of a leap?

PIETROLUONGO: Well, even if we didn't have YouTube in the calculations this week, the song would have debuted probably somewhere in the top 15 because it's been among the top-selling downloads this past week. And it might actually be the number one selling download next week when we have our charts. So, you saw this kind of activity with PSY, where it broke on YouTube and then it led to sales, which led to airplay and then led to way more sales.

GONYEA: Again, that's "Gangnam Style," that one, right?

PIETROLUONGO: That, exactly.


GONYEA: So, talk about how important radio is given this change. It's been one of the dominant factors in determining chart position. Where is it now?

PIETROLUONGO: Of the three streams that we use - of sales, airplay and streaming - sales still weighs heavier than radio; radio weighs heavier than streaming. But if you look at the top-selling downloads each week, if you look at the top streaming songs each week, 90 percent of the top it's the top radio hits. So, you know, radio still validates, I think, at the end of the day, what a major hit will be.

GONYEA: All right. Silvio Pietroluongo is the director of charts at Billboard magazine. He joined us from in New York. Thank you.

PIETROLUONGO: Thank you, Don. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.