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Billboard Not by The Numbers



If ever a business magazine seemed completely flummoxed, that magazine is Billboard. A baffling mix of PR kiss ass reviews and meaningless number squeezed together that, once you look at them, make no sense, it is hemorrhaging readers. In a bad week 40K albums sold can give you a number one album and all that equivalent unit stuff? Complete dribble. If it makes up an additional 7% in “units””, it’s a miracle. You might as well can it while you’ve got a chance.

But if you think that is confusing, on Sunday’s Billboard release the top ten of the  Album 200 for 13 days in the future (I know) and on Monday they release the Hot 100 singles for 12 days in the future and then on the Tuesday they release the entire charts for both for eleven days in the future.

Who organized this? Why? What sort of a mess is it when you are playing guessing game about Billboard’s reason for being and why? Why is it no longer an exact science? This week (by which I mean dated September 26th, released on Monday), Justin Bieber sold the most units of  the week with  “What Do You Mean?” yet came in third.

This is a real mess, nothing about Billboard’s charts means the slightest thing any more. For instance, Billboard had a post about how “Selena Gomez celebrates her first No. 1 on Billboard‘s Pop Songs airplay chart, as “Good for You” rises 2-1.” Fine, but since it is # 7 in the Hot 100 what does it mean and what does it matter?

I get it, business is business and the various charts are the same as demos in the TV business. However, nothing excuses the ridiculous stories and interviews and reviews both live and recorded,  completely untrustworthy from start to finish, which they publish. In Billboard’s defense, it is true of just about everyone except Consequence Of Sound. I once spent an hour counting up Pitchfork reviews, for every ten reviews, 5 are raves, four are positive and one is a pan. In comparison, of the 33 album reviews I wrote on Friday, 13 were pans.

So between bad writing, bad numbers and an almost astounding lack of musical vision, Billboard is a perfect music website for the 21st century.


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