A much-cited report from Nielsen this past summer revealed that more (64%) teens listen to music via YouTube than via any other source — a statistic that will start making a mainstream impact on an artist’s popularity in light of an announcement from YouTube today: From now on, YouTube views (from official videos to user-generated content) will factor into a song’s popularity on Billboard’s “Hot” charts.
If you take a look at Billboard’s “Hot 100″ chart at present, you’ll see this change already starting to take effect: Baauer’s “Harlem Shake,” the song that sparked the much-debated viral trend, is currently tops on the list. Last week, the jam wasn’t even charting, so the jump is quite a substantial one. In fact, this is only the 21st time a song has premiered at number one, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The song was released in May of 2012 by Mad Decent, but quickly gained traction in February when people started uploading dance videos to YouTube featuring the jam. Time reports that during the height of the meme’s popularity, more than 4,000 videos were uploaded to YouTube featuring Baauer’s song — a proliferation of content that could mean a hefty pay day for the musician and his label, thanks to YouTube’s Content ID service.
YouTube views — which take into account authorized spinoffs like those created with Baauer’s song — will be integrated into the potpourri of data Billboard already uses to create charts (physical sales, digital downloads, radio play, streaming) and will factor into the compilation of the Hot 100 List, Hot Country Songs, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, R&B Songs, Rap Songs, Hot Latin Songs, Hot Rock Songs and Dance/Electronic Songs.
This isn’t the first time Billboard has turned to social in order to determine popularity; in December of 2010, it launched its Billboard Social 50 chart, which determines artist popularity based on fan activity across sites like Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Twitter and more.