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Billboard Hot 100 to include Pandora data

By | Published on Tuesday 31 January 2017


Your pals over there at Pandora are now slipping all their data – including any that might have fallen on the floor, they’ll make sure that the stat janitors do a good sweep of the office first – over to the big mighty Billboard Hot 100 chart of songs that are big and mighty and, most importantly of all, HOT, in every one of those United States of Trumpton.

You might wonder why it’s taken so long for the US-based streaming service – a major player Stateside – to be included in Billboard’s main tracks chart. But stop wondering, because I don’t know. And it would be dead embarrassing if you were to ask a question I didn’t know the answer to. That happened once before in 2009. Still not recovered.

You might think it’s because Pandora – which is still to launch its fully on-demand Spotify competitor – is a personalised radio service, where the firm’s algorithm controls much of what a user listens to, rather than said listener logging in a choosing a track. Though the Hot 100 is interested in such machine-controlled listening and already includes data from some Pandora competitors, albeit giving on-demand streams a higher weighting to those that are pumped out by a personalised radio service.

Whatever, everyone’s very excited about Pandora stats finally being added to the big Billboard chart. And at least two people are “THRILLED”. “Who’s that?” you ask. Well, that would be telling. And I’m not telling. That information is classified.

“Billboard’s unrivalled charts are the definitive source for ranking music popularity”, says Co-President of the Billboard Media Group, John Amato, which basically makes that sentence a massive brag. It would have been better to get someone from Pandora to say that.

“For decades, the charts have acted as a place where both artists measure success and fans discover music”, adds the Billboard boss. “Close to 80 million music lovers listen to Pandora every month and we look forward to bringing our brands together to incorporate Pandora’s data into our charts”.

But what does Pandora chief Tim Westergren think? Well, he reckons that: “Over the last few years, Pandora has shared more and more data with the music industry. We started with artists and managers, then direct deal label partners, and now Billboard for inclusion in the iconic Hot 100 chart. With each step along the way our partners have been shocked by the sheer size of Pandora’s audience”.

Hey, hang on, I’m suspecting we’re about to get a massive brag from Westergren now as well. “Pandora is now the number one radio station in 87 US markets and represents roughly 10% of all radio listening”. Yep, there it is. “With the inclusion of Pandora data, the Billboard charts that have guided listeners and been so central to the music industry for decades now reflect a truer measure of a song’s popularity today”.

Well that’s good, isn’t it? “I’m THRILLED that the ‘Pandora effect’ will now be formally recognised in the industry’s gold standard for measurement”, the Pandora boss adds. Oh, I let that slip through there didn’t I? Yeah, OK, Westergren is one of the THRILLees.

“Next Big Sound has been a data partner of Billboard since 2010 with the introduction of the Social 50 chart”, adds Alex White, of Pandora’s stats unit Next Big Sound, for some not entirely clear reason, because no one actually asked. Perhaps he was responding to you wondering why it’s taken so long for Billboard to start counting Pandora plays – basically, it wasn’t his fault.

“Based on our years of data expertise across social and streaming sources, we know the staggering volume of Pandora data that has not been counted”, White adds. “We project that the Pandora data will have material impact on the chart positions. I am excited that the Hot 100 will now include the enormous number of spins on Pandora”.

So, Westergren’s “THRILLED”, White’s “excited” and Amato is “looking forward”. Who else is “THRILLED” you want to know. Well, as a prize for making it this far, I’ll tell you. It was Billboard’s VP Of Charts & Data Development Silvio Pietroluongo of course!

Says he: “We’re THRILLED to bring Pandora aboard as a contributor to our songs charts. The music tastes and listening habits of Pandora’s large and influential user base is something that we’ve longed to include as a measure of song popularity in the Hot 100 and various other Billboard charts”.

The end. Of this article I mean. Not Billboard. Or Pandora. Or human civilisation. Though who knows where we’ll be by tea time?