Billboard debuts Social 50, a social networking music chart

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So Rihanna is busting up the sales charts, but does she rule the Internet as well? Well, yes. Billboard has launched the “Social 50,” its first weekly music chart that tracks artists popularity across social networks. Topping the inaugural Social 50 chart are Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Eminem, Lady Gaga, and Nicki Minaj.

Here’s how it works: the chart uses a formula to figure out the popularity of artists by their number of friends, fans, and followers, as well as how many song plays and views they get on MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, iLike, and Twitter. The chart emphasizes how active fans are more than their sheer numbers, but song plays and page views are important as well. Billboard gets this data from a social music tracking service called Next Big Sound.

“We continue to adapt the way we chart the changing landscape of music,” says Billboard Editorial Director, Bill Werde. “The Social 50 is yet another step in the evolution of Billboard and an important response to our changing times.”

The first Social 50 chart is pretty sparse, containing only artist names, but formatted in the same way as Billboard’s other online charts. No data on how many fans or how active they are is provided on the chart. It simply lists.

“The volume of online activity that top artists now receive is too big to ignore,” says Next Big Sound CEO, Alex White. “We are thrilled that social music activity now receives the same emphasis as the music charts for which Billboard is synonymous.”

Social 50 is not the first chart to attempt this. The Ultimate Chart attempts to combine sales with social media as well. For more related news, check out our music section.

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