Is your song hot or not?
Billboard, the publisher of the Hot 100 singles and other music charts, will be incorporating spins from on-demand streams from services such as Spotify, Rhapsody, Muve, MOG, Slacker and Rdio in determining which songs top its charts. It will also publish a new chart for top on-demand streaming tunes, with the first chart debuting Wednesday.
The change in the industry's de facto hotness formula is a joint effort between the magazine, Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems and the National Assn. of Recording Merchandisers.
"With some of these services growing exponentially and integrating into the social web, the time is right to launch a streaming chart and to incorporate this activity into the Hot 100," said Bill Werde, Billboard's editorial director.
The charts will rely on data from Nielsen, which has been tracking digital music streams since 2005, but had not publicly shared the information. In the first 70 days of this year, Nielsen said it captured 4.5 billion audio streams -- 494 million during the week that ended March 4, up from 321 million in the week ended Jan. 1. Nielsen does not track Pandora, which does not provide data to Nielsen on its personalized radio streaming service to more than 20 million users.
Among the nuggets found in Nielsen's data, which will be released Wednesday along with Billboard's new On-Demand Songs chart and the revamped Hot 100, is that streaming activity decreased 17% in the week after Christmas, while digital download sales jumped 20% -- presumably from people cashing in their iTunes and Amazon.com gift cards.
Those looking for evidence that streaming services eat into music sales will be disappointed -- even as on-demand streams hit all time highs this year, digital track sales are up 7% so far this year compared with the same period in 2011.
-- Alex Pham