How To Billboard

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How does Billboard work?

Take a deep breath and put on your serious face. Because even the short answer to how Billboard works is full of ultra confusing math.





Billboard charts are counted from Friday to Thursday. They are posted each Tuesday, and run in an 11 day cycle in order to count for sales, streams, etc.. The 11 day cycle was instituted to ensure that there was no overlap or double counting that can happen on end days of a 7 day cycle. Dates posted are projected to the upcoming week.

Me. At Billboard’s math.

Most of us work better with examples. [*raises hand*] [*would raise a hand but is too busy using it to count on toes*] So here we go.


Friday,  1 Jan — sales tracking week begins
Thursday, 7 Jan  — sales tracking week ends
Tuesday, 12 Jan — new chart published (under issue date of Saturday, 23 Jan)
[Seriously. There has to be an easier way!]

And because most awards run on a 12 month cycles, and Billboard started in November… Billboard awards are usually in May. [You know, whomever was in charge of Billboard’s schedule would fit in perfectly with KPop. TRUTH.] 

Because Kpop

UPDATE: As of 2018, Billboard now posts date for the upcoming Saturday. [YAAAAAY!!!] Example: charts posted on January 2nd (Tuesday) would be dated for January 6th (Saturday). Most Billboard charts post on Tuesday morning.

~The Charts ~

Individual Chart Requirements:

KpG NOTE: There are other places that count towards certain charts; but as this list of what counts and what doesn’t is constantly revolving, the ones we listed are the most stable and have been verified to count towards Billboard charting.


The Hot 100 BBhot100

The Hot 100 chart =  Radio play  (US only) + Sales Data (US only) + Streaming Data (US only)

What Counts:

  • YouTube
  • Spotify
  • SoundCloud
  • Apple Music
  • Google Play
  • Amazon Prime and Amazon Music Unlimited Streams
  • Pandora
  • Tidal
  • Napster
  • Groove Music

How it Counts:

Download and stream the single. Only single songs are counted for the Hot 100. So Download the single first then purchase the rest of the album.

Other helpers:

  • Radio Play — Send requests to radio stations inside the US. Be polite, and thank them when your song has aired.
  • Shazam — You can only do this once per Shazam account, so Shazam the song once it drops. (KpG NOTE: Shazam helps with radio play. It’s a major factor in how radio stations choose their songs.) [I really wish Shazam’ing the song was as magical as it sounds…I mean, I guess sometimes it is…]

    Pfft. If this happened every time we pushed the little spinny button, I would soon be their number one user!. (I’m also pretty sure my friends would start hiding my phone. Soooo many ways to use that at inappropriate times.)
  • LyricFind U.S. chart — research lyrics on Pandora, Shazam, MetroLyrics, LyricsFreak, LyricsMania, LyricsMode. (KpG Note: There are other places that LyricFind is partners with, but these are the ones most likely to carry lyrics for Korean songs.)


The Billboard 200

The Billboard 200 chart = album and track sales (US only) + streaming (US only).

What Counts:

  • Spotify
  • SoundCloud
  • Apple Music/iTunes
  • Google Play
  • Amazon Prime and Amazon Music Unlimited Streams
  • Pandora
  • Tidal
  • Napster
  • Groove Music


Top Album Sales and World Album Charts

Both the Top Album Sales chart and the World Album Chart are based on sales; both physical and digital, around the world.


Social 50 (Social Artist) BillboardSocial50

The Social 50 is calculated for Billboard by Next Big Sound (owned by Pandora as of May 2015).

NBS metric for Social 50 was divided Fans/Followers (60%) + Views/Plays (30%) + Reactions (10%) as of September 2016.

What Counts for NBS Social 50 Chart:

  • YouTube
  • Spotify
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Wikipedia searches
  • SongKick

Additional data points used by NBS:

NBS has numerous partners for data collection. These are just some of the known heavy hitters.

  • Pandora
  • SoundCloud (partnership dissolved with NBS 20 August 2015)
  • Vevo
  • Billboard searches and articles
  • Google searches and major news outlet reads
  • Shazam

Next Big Sound also has it’s own Billboard chart for up and coming artists they predict will be the next big thing.

KpG NOTE: Justin Bieber currently holds 1st place on the Billboard Social 50 with the most times as number one with 161 weeks (as of 23 March 2017?). BTS is in 2nd place with 30 weeks as of July 15th.


Artist 100

The Artist 100 = radio play + album and single track sales + streaming data + social activity.

What Counts for streaming:

  • YouTube
  • Spotify
  • SoundCloud
  • Apple Music
  • Google Play
  • Amazon Prime and Amazon Music Unlimited Streams
  • Pandora
  • Tidal
  • Napster
  • Groove Music

What counts for social:

  • YouTube
  • Spotify
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Wikipedia searches
  • SongKick

Other Helpers:

  • Album sales
  • Radio play
  • Shazam
  • LyricFind parners

How it works:

The Artist 100 is sort of like if you smooshed the Hot 100, the Social 50, and the Billboard all into one chart. Although most places focus on the individual charts, being listed on the Artist 100 means you’re well rounded in all categories and is basically a metric for the hottest going thing.



The Heatseeker Albums = sales data

For first timers in the top 100 of Billboard 200 or top 10 of Genre albums (such as R&B/Hip-Hop). Once an artist has charted on Billboard 200 they are no longer eligible for Heatseekers.

To become a Heatseeker you need to sell around 450-500 albums your first week.


Billboard Twitter Charts:

Trending 140 (real time Twitter) and Top Twitter Tracks = Twitter

How it works:

  • Include a link of the song from Spotify, YouTube, Vevo, or iTunes
  • Include #nowplaying with the track hashtag and @/artist

Also using @/artist and the #/song without the song link has a good chance of being counted.


International Billboard Charts:

Most Influential Charts Outside the US:

UK Billboard — Includes Official UK Singles chart, Official UK Albums chart, (all data provided by Official UK Charts.)
Canadian Billboard (includes Canadian Hot 100, Canadian Digital Song Sales, and Canadian Albums Chart)
Billboard Japan – Japan Hot 100.

Other Billboard Countries:

Billboard Brasil —  Hot 100 Brasil.
China — V Chart

China — Billboard Weibo Chart **NEW** (24 April 2017)
France — Top Songs Chart (singles)
Germany — Top Albums Chart, Top Songs Chart (singles)
Philippines Billboard **NEW** (12 June 2017) — 2 charts:  Philippine Top 20, Philippine Hot 100
Mexico — Regional Mexican Album chart and Regional Mexican Songs Chart

Other Global Charts Billboard Uses For Calculations:

Europe — Euro Digital Song Sales
Global — World Digital Song Sales

Australia — Albums, Digital Song Sales
Austria — Digital Song Sales
Belgium —  Digital Song Sales
Brazil — Albums
Denmark — Digital Song Sales
Finland — Digital Song Sales
France — Digital Song Sales
Germany — Digital Song Sales
Greece — Albums, Digital Song Sales
Ireland — Digital Song Sales
Italy — Albums, Digital Song Sales

Luxembourg — Digital Song Sales
Mexico — Mexican Airplay (singles), Mexican Espanol Airplay (singles), Mexico Ingles Airplay (singles)
Netherlands — Digital Song Sales
New Zealand — Digital Song Sales
Norway — Digital Song Sales
Portugal — Digital Song Sales
Spain — Digital Song Sales
Switzerland — Digital Song Sales
Sweden — Digital Song Sales

Billboard Partners


LyricFind charts data from their service partners such as Pandora, iHeartRadio, MetroLyrics, LyricsFreak, LyricsMania, LyricsMode, and others. Use these sources when searching for lyrics to help your artist’s global score.

LyricFind has two Billboard Charts:

LyricFind Global chart

LyricFind U.S. chart

LyricFind also has two other major charts:

LyricFind UK chart
LyricFind Australia Chart


Shazam has it’s own charts, but they are partners with Billboard and are factored into global and US Billboard charting such as the Hot 100. Shazam also is a major factor in = helping  radio stations choose which songs to give airplay.

No super cool Let’s Annoy The World Magical Song Identifiers yet- but we can keep hoping. It’s the FUUUUUUTURE!

To Shazam a song, use the app to identify a song as it’s playing.


As of July 2017, no Kpop group has ever topped any Shazam chart outside of the South Korea 100.



Why do some charts only count US data?

In a word: tradition.

Charts like the Billboard 100 have been going for over 50 years. The Billboard 100 began in 1955 (or 1958 if you’re starting with the first publication). The Billboard 200 started in 1967 (at the time it was called “Top LPs”). There are many that feel to move the chart off the US only system would devalue the chart and corrupt the data.

But that doesn’t mean global charts are locked out. Billboard does see that there is a major market beyond North America. They have played with adding global charts (and removing dead ones) on and off for years. They have partnered with charts in other countries and are continuing to grow the global Billboard brand. In more recent years; the focus has been to prove to a skittish music industry that adding streaming to their charts won’t kill their companies, but will help them.

As of summer 2017, “oh – streaming is a thing” finally seemed to catch on in the industry as a whole. Billboard integrated streaming data into all of their genre charts, and even the Grammy Awards have now decided that streaming should count. Now that that seems to be accomplished, we expect them to push even more into the global market… with streaming.

An Awesome Final Note:


The Grammy Awards now include digitals from 2017 forward. This is under the approval of the RIAA, so only streaming from inside the US will be counted.

But it’s a step.

And hopefully, this will make it easier for our Korean faves to achieve what before seemed like a far away dream.

2 thoughts on “How To Billboard

    1. There’s both a simple and a complicated answer to this question.
      The simple answer is: Technically, “traditional” and “physical” mean the same thing (an actual cd or vinyl purchase).

      The complicated answer is: These two words are sometimes used for different purposes. The western industry; often uses “traditional” to mean the actual cd purchase. But “physical” is more often seen when digital sale equivalents and downloads are being discussed. It’s not that they mean something different, it’s just an easier way to identify what someone is talking about.

      With that said, this is not an actual rule. Some people will use either word for either purpose. And the Eastern market uses the term “physical” almost exclusively. (Because heaven forbid anyone make it simple, right?)

      Most Billboard album charts now are based on Overall Album Sales. This includes traditional sales, full album downloads, TEAs (Track Equivalent Albums/ 10 song downloads = 1 album), SEAs (Streaming Equivalent Albums/ 1500 songs streamed= 1 album).

      Hope that helped.


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