Billboard Magazine

Written by Blaire Chandler-Wilcox
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Billboard magazine is the Bible of the music industry. It maintains internationally recognized charts of the top selling songs and albums in a variety of categories on a week-by-week basis. To make it onto the Billboard charts even once is considered "the" career achievement goal in the music business. Musicians' careers live or die based on chart position and how long they remain "on the list."

Billboard: Your Hit Parade

Originally created in 1894, Billboard first concerned itself exclusively with carnival entertainment. A popular journal since its very beginning, in the late 1930s, Billboard created a small item called "The Hit Parade" which captured the imagination of the American public. In 1940 it created its first-ever "Music Popularity Chart." As a result of the enormous popularity of its music coverage, all other entertainment coverage was relegated to other journals. In 1958, the Music Popularity Chart, a title perhaps too generic for such a popular reference, was renamed "The Hot 100."

Today, the "Hot 100" lists the 100 top-selling and most radio-played singles across all categories. It is, without question, the standard by which popular songs the world over are measured--be they pop, rock, metal, country, rhythm and blues, soul, bluegrass, classical, alternative, or world music. In the United States, the pop culture phenomenon and radio mainstay for nearly 40 years, The American Top 40, pulls its programming from the upper half of the Hot 100. Hence, "Top 40" radio stations play only those songs which are, or have been, listed in the upper regions of Billboard's Hot 100.

In addition to listing the most popular singles and albums, Billboard today also charts the success of DVD and video tape rentals and sales, and even keeps track of the most requested digital downloads. Though their primary audience is made up of music and other media professionals, Billboard can be found on most major newsstands across the globe. Given that Billboard is a professional journal, newsstand cover prices can be steep. However, subscription rates for Billboard are considerably less than per-copy purchase.


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