BBC And IBM Reinvent The Music Chart
from the and-it's-about-time-too dept
The idea of the “Top 40” music hit seems like a relic of a different age, and the Billboard best sellers list hasn’t done much to really update with the times. However, reader Will North writes in to point us to a rather interesting experiment being done by the BBC and IBM to basically reinvent the concept of the music chart with a beta test of a new offering called Sound Index.
Rather than just checking on sales at certain shops which (as Will notes in his submission) can be easily gamed, Sound Index tries to look at a variety of online sources to find out what music people are really interested in:
“Crawls some of the biggest music sites on the Internet – Bebo, MySpace, Last.FM, iTunes, Google and YouTube – to find out what people are writing about, listening to, watching, downloading and logging on to. It then counts and analyses this data to make an instant list of the most popular 1000 artists and tracks on the web. The more blog mentions, comments, plays, downloads and profile views an artist or track has, the higher up the Sound Index they are.”
In other words, they’re reinventing the music charts, but making it much more accurate and relevant. But it doesn’t stop there, either. Rather than assuming there’s just one single chart to rule them all, the system lets you create custom lists for a better understanding of more niche-targeted music. So, say, if you wanted to know who’s hot on YouTube and Last.fm in the indie and punk worlds among US listeners between the ages of 20 and 30, you can create just that list. Or, as per Will’s suggestion, you could find out what female Emo fans between the age of 15 and 20 are talking about on Bebo — and get that list.
It does seem a little limited right now, but it’s definitely a step up from the lists you normally see these days, and shows that niche appeal can actually be worth something these days. That’s a big deal, because the believers in old time copyright insist that with more file sharing and such, only “mass market” music will survive. Instead, the opposite seems to be happening, as it’s easier than ever (often by leveraging such tools) for more targeted niche music to create a modest success by being tremendously successful within its own niche. Tools like Sound Index should make it easier to get even more recognition of success in those niches.