The days of boasting about making it only to the top of the Billboard Charts are numbered. There is a new standard-bearer in town – one that is similarly regarded as an everlasting authority in music media and news.
On Monday, May 13, Rolling Stone will launch the Rolling Stone Charts. The nature of the charts will be the same – tallying music consumption and popularity. However, Rolling Stone plans to stand apart from the 79-year long mainstay ( Billboard), by reflecting worldwide music trends in real time.
So far, it has not been revealed if the charts will be categorised into genres or regions. Jerome Hamilton of Headline Entertainment is hopeful that the new charts could benefit reggae and dancehall artistes, if the boundaries of genre and region are not disregarded. Still, he is concerned about streaming measures for local recording artistes – noting that local promoters are either been locked out, or ignorant, of the current distribution standards.
“If our numbers came up, it won’t have a major impact. Our numbers pale without a genre. No major Latin artiste has less than 10 millions streams, and no reggae artiste gets more than two million. Our streaming numbers, buying numbers, are not the strongest when it comes to that kind of support. We’re not there in terms of unit sales. Reggae promoters aren’t on what are now the conventional platforms, like Pandora Radio and Spotify,” Hamilton told The Gleaner.
The new Rolling Stone Charts will encompass the top 100 singles, offering daily updates. Billboard’s measures are tallied weekly. The new charts will also measure the top 200 albums in the United States. Three other weekly charts will launch: the Rolling Stone Artist 500 – ranking the most-streamed artists; the Rolling Stone Trending 25 – a list of the fastest-moving songs; and the Rolling Stone Breakthrough 25 – a look at artistes who have entered the charts for the first time. Rolling Stone’s new lists are expected to incorporate more streaming information and offer more transparency about how the rankings are derived.
Their data will be collected from Alpha Data, a three-year-old analytics start-up, formerly known as BuzzAngle Music, that has been building its reputation within the industry since its 2016 launch. Billboard gets its data through an exclusive deal with Nielsen SoundScan.
Regardless of the lacklustre streaming culture in the reggae and dancehall space, industry players like Hamilton welcome the emergence of a new standard-bearing mechanism. “Any chart is good, any benchmark is good. It’s great to have another setting the standard. How much credibility they’ll get, time will tell. But I won’t be surprised if there is no clear impact for us – except for crossover successes like Sean Paul or Shaggy. It won’t impact a regular artiste,” he continued.
Walshy Fire, producer with the pervasive Major Lazer crew, is more optimistic about Rolling Stone’s challenge to Billboard – and the potential for more musicians to be recognised. “I’d definitely love to see more opportunities for people to be recognised. There are already a handful of gatekeepers. We definitely need more. We need our own,” Walshy Fire told The Gleaner. While he’s still deep in the trenches of music-making, he isn’t preoccupied with the idea of becoming a gatekeeper himself. “If I make it [on the list], it could look a way. But I would love to see the recognised greats on that.”
Rolling Stone, which is owned by Penske Media Corp, is hoping that their innovations will help it muscle on to turf that Billboard has ruled for decades.