Sound Off: Does Baauer’s “Harlem Shake” #1 Mean Billboard Should Be Factoring YouTube Into The Charts?

Bradley Stern | February 21, 2013 11:12 am

In case you haven’t already noticed, there’s something new happening over at Billboard.

This week, the company announced that YouTube views will now be incorporated into the overall ranking system for the Hot 100 chart, a weekly tally of the 100 most popular songs in the country.

The change to the ranking system is a sign of the ever-changing digital times — an acknowledgement that traditional radio doesn’t command the same influence it once did many years ago, and that cultivating a strong web presence dictates more relevancy than ever. (According to Editorial Director Bill Werde, the official breakdown for calculating a song’s ranking is now 35-45% traditional sales, 30-40% radio airplay and 20-30% streaming content.)

However, the decision — especially after the first, post-YouTube chart was published yesterday — has led to a fair share of criticism.

In the past two weeks, Baauer‘s viral sensation “Harlem Shake” has swept through YouTube, resulting in a dizzying mess of 30-second clips featuring dancing grandmas and office co-workers gyrating in chairs, some rather well-publicized Twitter spats and — not least of all, Baauer‘s first ever Billboard #1, thanks to the newly implemented ranking system.

This week’s “Harlem Shake” #1 left some chart nerds shaking their heads, proclaiming the inclusion of YouTube to be, more or less, The Worst Thing Ever. As Idolator reader Mm lamented: “We’re going to have a lot more novelty hits, which isn’t so bad, but then we should put a lot less impact on what a number one hit means in regards to quality.” Others simply threw in the towel, like reader HELLO: “Music is officially 6 feet under. RIP.”

At the same time, others have lauded the decision as a way of adapting to today’s music-seeking methods, as well as providing a new way for independent artists to gain visibility in a non-traditional route.

Mega-pop producer Claude Kelly, for instance, warily supported the decision last night, tweeting to Werde: “I understand it. Just nervous it’ll open the floodgates to trivial ‘hits’ that are driven by image and not content. Overall I believe that cream still rises to the top. The biz thrives on quality songs with quality visuals from quality artists. So yes, adding YouTube is a step in the right direction.”

So now, it’s your turn to tell us: What do you think about the new Billboard chart calculation?

Is it a positive sign of the industry adapting to the times, leading to exciting and refreshing new changes on the charts? Or a flawed attempt to capture what’s hot in the moment, resulting in flash-in-the-pan acts being given way too much recognition?

Sound off in the comments section below!