Billboard — the music industry’s stalwart chart resource — announced plans on Wednesday to team up with Twitter to give the people what they want: more charts.
The latest chart, dubbed “the Billboard Hot Trending Powered by Twitter,” will do exactly what its name implies: gauge how many Twitter conversations are happening around a particular song on a given day. It’s a metric that Sarah Rosen, Twitter’s head of entertainment partnerships, told Bloomberg will be instrumental in an age when social media plays such an integral role in determining the zeitgeist.
“This is all tied to conversation,” Rosen said. “This is another cool way to slice and dice music data that’s different from what they are doing with all the other charts out there.”
The new strategy will reportedly also have an impact on Billboard’s editorial workflow, in that staffers will also be tasked with writing up stories and producing videos around the data, which will eventually appear on Billboard’s own website as well as Twitter.
Billboard’s president, Julian Holguin, told Bloomberg that advertisers can also expect to get in on the action — what a relief! — either by sponsoring the chart or by buying sponsorships within the resultant videos that are spun out of the charts’ data points.
“Advertisers can align with the hottest trends in music and the most buzzworthy topics,” Holguin said. “Moving at the speed of culture is hard to do, and this chart can help advertisers take part in that.”
But look past the corporate chart jargon and you’ll see the disturbing and obvious truth: This tool in the hands of Gen Z is just another way to ensure that Santana’s 1999 hit “Smooth” reenters the cultural conversation, once again dominate the discourse during the summer of 2021.
Really though, a music economy that’s in any way dictated by tweets just seems like the logical extension of a gig economy where positive user ratings are a boon to earnings, or the crowdfunding platforms people flock to when their loved ones are sick and need insulin. Crowdsourcing anything, whether it be vital resources or popular music, isn’t the most reliable system for determining merit, talent or need — it’s just an arbitrary way to figure out who can generate the most clicks, either by activating their “hive” or by pulling on lucky invisible tendrils of the social structure that connects us all.
To paraphrase one of the great poets: “Give me your chart/make it real/or else forget about it.”