YouTube views now influencing Billboard rankings

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It’s no secret that the pace of change in the music industry has been breakneck of late, with streaming services forever altering a once-static landscape.

The latest confirmation that we’re living in a brave new world was yesterday’s announcement that Billboard, forged from a bygone era, is now taking YouTube views into account when deciding on which songs to include in its Hot 100 singles chart.

Though the list has been a staple for 55 years now, this is easily the most seismic shift in its formula.  It’s also a boon to YouTube hits like Baauer’s “Harlem Shake”, which has gone viral thanks to the fad du jour, which involves amassing a group of friends/colleagues to “dance” to the song (much to the chagrin of the original Harlem Shakers).

Really, Billboard’s move makes all the sense in the world. After all, it was a music video (Psy’s “Gangnam Style”) that achieved virality of epidemic proportions and rode it all the way one billion views – the first-ever YouTube video to do so. Beyond that, there are millions of music fans whose first stop in searching for their favorite tunes is the Internet-video behemoth. In fact – according to a report by Nielsen –  64 percent of teens bop their heads to YouTube – more than radio (56%), iTunes (53% ), CDs (50%), or any other method of delivery.

That reality serves as a prime example of why prognosticating about technology – something we’re often guilty of – is a losing game. Back in 2005 (when YouTube debuted), who in their right mind would have forecasted that it would become the number one place for young people to listen to music?

Expect some big changes in the Hot 100 going forward and for the rest of the music landscape to continue shifting beneath your feet.

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