The recorded music industry continues to tank. Last month, Soundscan reported sales were down nine per cent in 2010—bringing the industry’s collapse to 50 per cent of its 1999 levels. But even if people aren’t buying music in the numbers they used to, we’re all still listening to it—and talking about it. Which is why Billboard magazine, the bible for music industry insiders, launched a new chart in December: the Social 50. The rankings are based on a variety of online factors: YouTube views, number of tracks streamed from MySpace, Facebook fans, and even Twitter mentions. (None of which, it should be noted, will pay the bills for musicians.)
So far, the Social 50 closely mirrors the actual Top 50 singles, with Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Lady Gaga topping the chart since its inception. And no matter how notorious Kanye West’s tweets might be, he has yet to crack the Social 50’s Top 10.