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Tweets on music to be focus of new Billboard chart

Wednesday - 4/2/2014, 4:13am  ET

billboardtwitterhand (augenstein)
Tweets about music people are listening to will be the focus of a new Billboard real-time chart (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

WASHINGTON -- Tweeting about what's on television -- often called second-screening -- is now an established, expected phenomenon, quantified weekly with Nielsen's Twitter TV Ratings.

Starting in May, the music that people are talking about will be tallied in a new list -- the Billboard Twitter Real-Time Charts.

Pairing the authority of Billboard's charts with the immediacy of Twitter makes sense, according to longtime Washington, D.C.-area radio personality Albie Dee.

"They're looking for what people are talking about," says Dee.

The charts will be continually updated and posted on Billboard's website, as well as several times a week on Billboard's Twitter feed.

"Twitter is where the music of the moment is discovered and discussed -- every day, new songs and new artists are breaking on the platform," says Bob Moczydlowsky, Twitter's head of music.

Albie Dee says music lovers talking online about songs on the radio is driving interest in hearing music.

"I think when an uber-fan finds something new, they're on it; they're tweeting it, and depending on if you do the right hashtag, everybody else picks up on it," he says.

While Billboard has outlasted other ratings services, Dee isn't certain it carries the weight it has in the past.

"Is it relevant to the music buyer now, that's primarily a teenager up to a 30 -year-old? That's kind of arguable," says Dee.

Dee says in the past, Billboard charts were more subjective, based in part on the opinions of music programmers.

That's no longer the case: "They track sales and airplay. It's more of an accurate chart nowadays."

Twitter attempts musical comeback

Twitter's new foray into music comes on the heels of its failed #Music app.

A year ago, Twitter's app was launched with the promise of being a way to hear and talk about music others were listening to. After a breathlessly anticipated release, interest quickly evaporated.

The Twitter #Music app was removed from the Apple app store two weeks ago, and the app will stop working April 18.

The new Billboard Twitter chart would monitor "positive" mentions about music and filter out negative ones, although the methodology for accomplishing that hasn't been announced, reports The New York Times.

With the growth of music streaming services, digital music sales in 2013 dropped for the first time since iTunes was invented, largely because of ad-supported and paid subscription streaming services.

While Albie Dee is confident the Billboard Twitter Real-Time Charts will get people talking about music, he's not certain there will be a next step.

"Does it drive them to go buy it? That depends on the individual, if they like the song or not," says Dee.

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