Tag Archives: Vevo

BILLBOARD HOT 100 COUNTS YOUTUBE VIEWS, AND BOT VIEWS WILL SUFFER

On Wednesday February 20th, Billboard added YouTube views to their Hot 100 methodology which radically changed the makeup of the esteemed chart. The most immediate change came at the top, where “Harlem Shake” by Baauer, the viral sensation, debuts at #1. It marks the first time that a relatively unknown artist debuts at #1 with very little radio airplay to aid it. Given the ubiquity of the song last week, with everyone from the Today Show to college swim teams to the Norwegian Army joining in, it feels culturally right to see the song at the top spot. As many writers have noted, this is probably the biggest change to the Hot 100 chart in a very long time.

But why did it take this long to add YouTube (and VEVO) views to the chart? With numerous videos being seen north of 100 million times, YouTube’s influence on pop culture has been clear for a few years. At a minimum, it’s been two years since the game changing Rebecca Black video. Shouldn’t Billboard have been counting YouTube all along?

The likely reason why they haven’t is because YouTube numbers have to be trustworthy if they are going to influence the bellweather singles chart. Simply scraping numbers from YouTube is not valid as it doesn’t account for country discrepancies within a US based chart. But it also doesn’t account for activity from bots, a practice many labels and artists have used to varied success over the last few years.

In advance of the Hot 100 announcement, YouTube stepped up its enforcement of its Terms Of Service forbidding bot views. The most noticeable result was a 2 BILLION view decrease in major label videos 2 months ago, but similar audits of videos at all levels have been ramping up for months now. With a chart influence now on the line, both parties are more incentivized to stay honest. The timing of these events feel like more than coincidence, and certainly suggests a concerted effort to increase YouTube’s credibility for chart eligibility. As such, I would anticipate enforcement to get more strict, with account deletions a likely punishment for bot activity.

Last week’s #1 was “Thrift Shop”, another song that broke out of YouTube. Getting the credit as the “breaking spot” for back to back chart-toppers is crucial to reinforcing and growing YouTube’s brand. Having more credible numbers is certainly good for everyone in the long run. For those who think they can do an end-run around the system, it feels very likely that this one is closing rapidly.

ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER

Your music is having difficulty being heard because you can’t get people’s attention. This is not a new idea, but it’s one whose problem grows exponentially daily. A few things popped in the blogosphere this week that emphasized the industry should be figuring out how to combat people’s ADD more than anything.

First, in an interview on evolver.fm, long time music blogger Sean Adams bemoaned the slow death of MP3 blogs. While bloggers took over gatekeeper influence from publications like Rolling Stone in the 2000s, these same people are finding their influence waning as people’s individual social feeds are influencing their circles. That may not be an issue for some, but for new artists looking to break, it becomes a problem. As Adams points out, he used to hammer away at an artists’ importance until the audience catches on. Social feeds, on the other hand, are only focused on talking about things that are shiny and new. As he says so eloquently, “I’d argue that an obsession with the new has been more damaging to music than piracy.” That’s a classic symptom of anyone with ADD.

This led to a reminder by Disc & D.A.T. publisher Steve Meyer of a quote made 2 weeks ago by Rio Caraeff, the CEO of VEVO. He said, “Piracy is a bit like the war on drugs, it’s an unwinnable war…but I think the solution is to provide access to entertainment to as many people as possible, through a variety of different models.” While it’s always refreshing to hear that fighting piracy is a waste of time, the solution offered is not ideal either. Providing wide access, which has been growing, seems like a great thing for many. However, this just leads to further difficulties for those looking to break in. With wider access comes larger difficulties in discoverability. Most people, faced with too many entertainment choices, will just default to what is safe or what they know. Couple this access with Sean Adams’ observation, and we just create a constant ADD assault where no new music sticks.

This assault was felt by many thru industry blogger Bob Lefsetz. After commenting on an unsigned artist that actually got his attention, he got assaulted with many more unsigned artists that led him to berate people for sending him their music. This didn’t sit well with many, including my artist friend Syd who asked, “If Bob Lefsetz isn’t listening, who is?” Syd says it’s Bob’s obligation to listen to music, where I believe it’s the artist’s obligation to effectively command attention. Whose issue is it when Bob’s ADD kicks in with the onslaught of requests?

Whatever the communication method, I always respond to the ones who commanded my attention, who breaks thru my personal ADD tendencies. Berating a gatekeeper or listener for not listening is not their fault, it’s your fault. It’s your job to figure out how to get someone to see you and keep them engaged. It is certainly harder, but that just means you have to work smarter. Bob got slammed with artist emails in the last 48 hours. Do you know how many people reached out to him via Twitter to listen to their music in that same time? One. That’s right. Only one. That doesn’t guarantee Bob will hear the music either, but I think I’ll more likely be seen when I’m the only one doing it instead of following the herd.

And whether you agree with any of the above or not, it doesn’t matter. I’m over 500 words in and I’ve got your attention. Enough to mention I help solve many of these attention problems with my latest book Hack Your Hit. I did it by providing worthwhile content. I promoted it solely by placing it on my Twitter and Facebook feeds. You didn’t have to come here. You certainly didn’t have to read this far. To Bob’s point, I didn’t force this upon you. You came to me. And I thank you for it.

To further thank you, I want to hear your stories of how you successfully got attention. Email me your stories in 150 words or less to jay futurehitdna com. In a couple of weeks, I will pick the 5 stories that got my attention the most and post them on this blog. Each of the selected stories will get an autographed copy of my new book Hack Your Hit and a free DigSin T-shirt (that’s my label that gives its music away for free if you didn’t know).

ADD is a fact of life now in so many aspects of daily life. It’s not pleasant, but it’s reality. To understand that the music fan likely suffers from it is to figure out the best way to work against it. Ignoring it as a hurdle to success just guarantees you’ll trip over it and fall on your face. I look forward to reading your successes and seeing how well you command my attention.

REBECCA BLACK: WINNERS AND LOSERS

A week ago, I certainly didn’t intend to write (or obsess) so much about Rebecca Black and her viral internet meme “Friday”. However, there is so so much to learn from this track. In one week, this song basically upended the music business conversation. What are the results of this?

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