Billboard Changes Chart Methodology; Birthplace of Country Music Museum Starts Construction 11/1; Stream New Holly Williams Song

Juli Thanki | October 12th, 2012

  • Billboard changed the way they tabulate the Hot Country Songs chart (and a handful of other charts). Now it will “incorporate digital download sales (measured by Nielsen SoundScan) and streaming data (measured by Nielsen from Spotify, Muve, Slacker, Rhapsody, Rdio and Xbox Music) along with the BDS monitored airplay measurement. The new chart will also incorporate data from over 1200 stations of all genres for songs receiving crossover airplay.”
  • Our pal Chris pointed us toward this video posted the other day on Fark: the Chinese bluegrass stylings of Mei Han’s Red Chamber with John Reischman and the Jaybirds.
  • Eric Banister of MusicTomes interviewed Preston Lauterbach, author of The Chitlin’ Circuit and the Road to Rock ‘n’ Roll.
  • Holly Gleason wrote about Nashville for the Hollywood Reporter: Created by Grand Ole Opry head Steve Buchanan, this is the white-knuckle truth of a high-gloss industry reliant on old-guard superstars, now facing a new world order and merciless future. The power grabs, dejection and inevitable downsizing are portrayed full-tilt and to the hilt — and the season’s unraveling will no doubt provide humiliation aplenty, both through vocalizing what goes unspoken in a realm where fame, trajectory and money trump talent, reason and decency. 
  • Luke Bryan will headline his first tour in 2013. The Dirt Road Diaries Tour kicks off January 17 and will include opening acts Thompson Square and Florida Georgia Line.
  • NPR’s Jacob Ganz interviewed Jonathan Sterne, author of MP3: The Meaning of a Format.
  • Henry Carrigan reviewed the graphic novel The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song for American Songwriter.
  • American Songwriter posted a new Holly Williams song and the track listing for her upcoming album, The Highway, which will drop in February.
  • Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott were interviewed by Chris Mateer for his site, Uprooted Music Revue.
  • Country California posted a mailbag in which CM Wilcox and Andrew Lacy answered questions (sourced from search engine queries) that make Engine 145’s search engine queries—which include  things like “Why doesn’t Jessica Andrews have a record deal,” “songs about dying fathers” and “Keith Urban blow up doll” seem tame in comparison.
  • Fundraising for the Birthplace of Country Music Museum has wrapped up and construction will start in Bristol, VA November 1. The museum is expected to be completed by August 2014.
  • Heather Thompson of American Songwriter reviewed a recent Eric Church show, which was taped for his forthcoming live album.
  • Wanda Jackson and Justin Townes Earle talked with Rolling Stone about her new record, Unfinished Business.
  • Jewly Hight interviewed duo Shovels & Rope for CMT Edge.
  • Bassist Randy Barnes is leaving Josh Williams’ band.
  • Taylor Swift is the cover girl of the new issue of Rolling Stone. Read an excerpt from the story here.
  • CMT Edge’s Will Hodge interviewed Old 97s frontman Rhett Miller.
  • UK “country band in a swamped pool of indie” Chloe and the High Tides are featured on the Chronicle Live site. (warning: autoplay)
  • Ryan Bingham contributed a video to The Nature Conservatory’s “All Hands on Earth” music campaign. Other artists who’ve made videos for the project include Glen HansardAbigail Washburn and Kai Welch.
  1. Ken Morton, Jr.
    October 12, 2012 at 11:50 am

    I have mixed feelings about this Billboard change. On one hand, it could possibly open things up for country or alt-country artists like Jamey Johnson or The Civil Wars who sell lots of digital singles/music, but had very little airplay to actually dent the Billboard charts. On the other hand, because the new chart counts all country artist airplay on non-country radio stations, it inherently gives a benefit to pop-country crossover artists since they have an opportunity to “double dip.” My gut tells me the radio stations will hate it, since they’re not the ones driving the chart any longer. It’ll be fascinating to see if it has any impact the industry over the next few months and years.

  2. Eric Banister
    October 12, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Thanks for the shout out!

  3. Redd Dirt
    October 12, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    This chart needs to be renamed the Taylor Swift Sandbox because she’ll be the only one who will be allowed to play in it:

    She has three songs in the top ten and one of them, “Red” hasn’t had any country radio play.

    George Strait will never see another Billboard #1.

  4. TX Music Jim
    October 12, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Will the billboard changes effect the ALT country roots music arena’s ? We will see. However,i’d doubt it. The charts in a lot of ways are meaningless. Including the worthless Texas music chart. As social media and streaming and downloads drive music sales and ticket/merch sales, charts and tradtional radio will mean less and less as time goes by. It will make it harder for the older tradtional country fan who still listen to radio and buy Cd’s. Maybe this will push them towards the new media too we will see.

  5. Rick
    October 12, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Opry Alert! Tonight’s Opry features James Otto, Jim Lauderdale, Holly Williams, Andy Gibson, and Roy Clark. Grade: B The Saturday night Opry’s will feature Elizabeth Cook, Exile, Roy Clark, Andy Gibson, Connie Smith, and Sarah Darling. Grade: B+

    I wonder if the Billboard changes will make radio stations pay even more attention to the Mediabase charts? I would assume radio station programmers are primarily interested in what other radio stations are spinning as opposed to what is selling (or streaming). Hmm…

    CMT Edge is covering a lot of worthy and talented Americana/Country artists as it gains steam. Something useful and legitimate from CMT land? Have I entered The Twilight Zone or something? Sheesh!

  6. Mike Wimmer
    October 13, 2012 at 10:10 am

    I dont understand why so many fans are outraged at the Billboard change. Does it suck if you are a Country artist? Sure and trust me, I cant stand Taylor Swift or her generic pop-Country music, but if you enjoy an artist how does this change things for you? Does this make songs like “The House That Built Me” any less great?

    Support the artists and the songs you love and leave the rest to the stupid record executives. The industry has been a joke for a long time and the rewards shows are just more industry ass kissing among all the stars and their management teams.

  7. Andrew
    October 13, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    The outrage is because as bad as country radio was before, now non-country stations are going to have a strong influence on the country chart and give labels even more incentive to go toward rock and pop.

  8. Jon
    October 13, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Mike Wimmer asks a good question; I’ll bet he doesn’t get doodley squat in the way of an actual, responsive answer.

    Question: will the inclusion of sales data have a greater or smaller impact on the new country chart than the broader airplay reporting? Answer: you don’t know, because the piece doesn’t give enough specifics to be able to tell. Which means, among other things, that all of the hand-wringing is wasted energy.

  9. Mike Wimmer
    October 14, 2012 at 1:36 am

    I can see that Andrew, but the industry was already going that way. Let’s be blunt, Country radio programmers dont care about quality and they dont care about how Country it sounds. They dont. The proof in that is the fact that Brantley Gilbert and Luke Bryan have consistent Top 5, Top 10 hits.

    Country programmers have been pushing for a more rock/pop sound because that way they can pull in more people to their stations and not alienate folks who “hate” Country music.

    Mainstream Country is pretty much a joke, if you look at the charts it’s filled with songs ranging from offensively bad, totally forgettable, or incredibly generic songs. Sure, there are still a song or two that comes along that grabs you, but if you listen to an hour of Country radio the chances of you hearing that is MAYBE a song an hour.

    I just fail to see what has people so worked about this issue, people should be worked about how insulting to a human’s intelligence songs like “Cruise” and the songs that pre-dated it are. Be offended that Country programmers think so little of their audience that they honestly think all people want or can handle is songs about hot chicks, beer and trucks. Be worked up that guys like Jamey Johnson, Chris Knight and Hellbound Glory dont get a sniff of Country airplay, but “Truck Yeah” is played every hour.

    I honestly dont see Music Row and Country Radio turning back at this point, people keep waiting for it, but the only traditional sounding songs that can get on the radio these days are basically George Strait copy cat songs.

    My advice to people upset by this is be thankful. Be thankful that you have access to the internet and can listen to good music with heart and substance behind it whenever you want. Take the energy you are focusing on Billboard and instead put that energy towards supporting and spreading the word about artists you love. Trying to save Country radio at this point is a lost cause, a cause that was lost a long, long, long time ago….way before Billboard decided to crown Lady A and Taylor Swift the heads of Pop Country radio.

  10. Redd Dirt
    October 14, 2012 at 11:25 am

    The Day the Music (Chart) Died:

    Here’s a snippet from one of the comments:

    On 10-23, when her album drops, all 16 tracks on the cd will chart on the Hot Country songs chart due to massive digital sales that she gets every time she releases her new album. So she will occupy the number 1-16 slots most likely on the new, Wonderful, “Hot Country songs” charts.

    I hope that does happen because nothing will illustrate the absurdity of the current state of country music like this will.

  11. Rick
    October 14, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Mike, I agree with you about Top 40 AirHead Country Radio never turning back to a music focused format in big markets with Mediabase reporting stations. I know I’m beating a dead horse but when the Clinton administration allowed the FCC to drastically change radio station ownership restrictions, they opened Pandora’s Box and the “evil” unleashed will never be put back.

    When radio station switched from primarily small, local ownership to large corporations the “business model” changed drastically and there is no going back. I remember back in the 1980’s LA’s KZLA had DJs who loved country music and picked the songs they spun with requests having a big influence on their selections. It may still be that way in small, independently owned stations (and WSM AM thank goodness), but those stations are like a proverbial drop in the bucket as to their market influence.

    Yes, the Billboard chart changes may hasten mainstream country radio’s transition into a total craptastic pop-rock genre, but the end result is inevitable either way.

  12. Jon
    October 14, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    And one of the ironies is that, when those who profess concern spend their time nattering about Billboard charts and mainstream country radio playlists, they end up on common ground with mainstream country radio programmers, agreeing with them that mainstream country radio – as in, terrestrial radio – has the key, if not the exclusive capacity to define country music.

  13. luckyoldsun
    October 14, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    Billboard presumably has decided that this change will be good for Billboard. Why will it? Can’t say I know. But Billboard’s a private company and can do whatever they want with their charts.

    Too bad R&R’s not still around–This might have been a boon to them. Maybe it will open the door for someone else to step in with a better country chart and gain recognition for it.

  14. Mike Wimmer
    October 14, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    I think for a “new” chart company to come in at this stage, it would take a company with massive financial backing and strong ties to Clear Channel, Viacom and the like to pull that off. I just dont see that happening, for one Billboard seems to have a good to great working relationship with those companies and considering Radio of any musical genre is considered a dying beast, where is the financial incentive for someone to do that?

    Chances are if a company is interested in getting involved with the Music industry right now, it’s going to be involved with a streaming, cloud storage or touring endeavor.

    I think the fact Billboard continues to try and “re-invent” the charts, is proof that even they know their relevance and importance within the industry and to the consumer is dying off.

  15. Jon
    October 15, 2012 at 10:46 am

    BIllboard has been periodically changing the way that its country charts are constructed for as long as it’s had country charts. Phrases like “better country chart” seem like they ought to mean something, but until the question, “better for whom?” at least gets put on the table, it’s just more blather from someone obsessed with trying to sound like she knows something about the industry. “Can’t say I know,” indeed.

  16. Redd Dirt
    October 15, 2012 at 4:20 pm
  17. Redd Dirt
    October 15, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Sorry, should have read the front page article before posting.

  18. Andrew
    October 15, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    One thing that seems to be getting lost in the discussion is that while Billboard is the most well-known chart, Mediabase is more widely used within the radio business. Countdown shows like Bob Kingsley, Kix Brooks, Lon Helton, Crook & Chase, et al use Mediabase, not Billboard. And the station I work for – along with many others – rely on Mediabase to determine how often to play currents.

  19. Jon
    October 15, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    All of the sh

  20. Jon
    October 15, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Ack! All of the shows mentioned air primarily on country radio, right? Which is part of, but not all if the radio industry. Plus which, I’ll bet that if you asked the Billboard folks who they’re serving, it’s retail more than broadcasting.

  21. Andrew
    October 16, 2012 at 1:25 am

    Country radio was what I meant, genius. I don’t care what other formats are doing.

  22. luckyoldsun
    October 16, 2012 at 2:44 am

    Uh, Jonno–
    Ask someone–anyone–to take a look at this whole board and tell you who it is that seems obsessed.

  23. Jon
    October 16, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Why would you say “radio business” if you meant “country radio business?” You’re not getting charged by the word for your posts, are you?

  24. Barry Mazor
    October 16, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    By the word for posts..

    Hmm. Don’t give us any ideas..

  25. Emma
    October 18, 2012 at 5:00 pm

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