Music & Culture

The Billboard Hot 100/200: Why Charts Matter to Artists

So what’s the deal with the Billboard Hot 100 and the Billboard 200? Why are so many artists concerned with debuting in the top spot?

For example, Justin Bieber made several Instagram videos over a week ago, begging fans to stream his new single “Yummy” to secure the number one spot on what is dubbed “The Hot 100,” which is actually Billboard‘s song chart. They, too, have the “Hot 200.”

The Hot 100 chart is updated weekly by Billboard magazine. It’s a chart identifying the top 100 songs in the United States, based on radio airplay, sales and online streaming.

Similarly, the Billboard 200 is exactly the same, but focuses on albums instead of songs. Rather than featuring the top 100 songs, it features the top 200 albums and EPs (Extended Plays) in the United States.

Debuting at the top of these charts is an artist’s dream. If an artist releases a new song, the hope is probably for it to be the top song in the United States. That means that out of every other song that exists and is listened to, that song’s being listened to by more people than any other song. The number one song’s played on more radio stations, streamed on more music devices and is selling more copies than any other song at the current time.

Similarly, if an artist releases a new album, the desire is for it to debut in the top spot on the Billboard 200 for the same reasons. If the album goes number one, it has sold more copies than any other album in America.

The charts update weekly (every Friday) when the tracking period ends for the week. Since new music is always released on Fridays, the tracking week begins at midnight on Friday morning and ends at 11:59 p.m. Thursday night.

Most recently, Selena Gomez shared videos to her Instagram, explaining how honored she would be if her new album Rare went number one. The Billboard 200 updated on Friday last week to reveal that she had debuted at number one, just slightly ahead of Roddy Ricch and his album Please Excuse Me For Being Anti-Social.

For this current week, Eminem and his brand new surprise album, Music to Be Murdered By, is predicted to debut at number one on the Billboard 200, with anywhere between 300,000 and 325,000 copies sold. The predictions update throughout the week as more sales, streams and radio airplay of singles from the album come in.

Having a large number of number one singles or albums is a huge accomplishment for an artist. To have more than a few is seen as an accomplishment almost akin to winning a prestigious music award. Being able to go number one several times legitimizes an artist and guarantees that they have a well-established listener/fanbase and will continue to see success.

Featured Image: Billboard

Sarah DeNunzio

"A writer is someone who can make a riddle out of an answer." - Karl Kraus