Monthly Archives: February 2013

One of my favorite parts of the week is checking out the top hits. I listen to Ryan Seacrest’s American Top 40, watch VH1’s Top 20 music videos and browse Billboard’s Hot 100. Last week Billboard announced that it will incorporate a new channel into the calculations for the Hot 100: YouTube video hits.

billboard youtube


Billboard Music Ranking History

Billboard has published the Hot 100 list since 1958. Originally, the songs were ranked based on biggest selling singles in retail stores, most played songs on US radio stations and most played songs in jukeboxes.

But now more and more people listen to their music on the internet. To account for this ever growing group of listeners, Billboard incorporated live streaming into the calculations a few years ago. They have continued to include new streaming services, and ABC reports that “last October, Billboard began using Nielsen SoundScan’s digital-download sales numbers and streaming data — from Spotify, Muve, Slacker, Rhapsody, Rdio and Xbox Music, among other services — to determine chart rankings.”

Silvio Pietroluongo of Billboard Magazine gives an overview of the history to NPR: That was the first charts, and then it was jukebox, airplay sales, vinyl, cassette, CDs, and then we moved into ringtones and digital downloads. And we’ve had streaming in the Hot 100 for about five or six years, so this is just a continuance of increasing the pool of streamers that we have on the chart.

Of the three streams that we use – of sales, airplay and streaming – sales still weighs heavier than radio; radio weighs heavier than streaming. But if you look at the top-selling downloads each week, if you look at the top streaming songs each week, 90 percent of the top it’s the top radio hits.” 

The Introduction of YouTube

Including YouTube hits for the first time last week bumped the song “Harlem Shake” by Baauer to the #1 spot.

The debut of this song on the charts was met with some resistance, as critics argued that the song itself is not popular, and that the viral video take-offs are what make it largely searched and watched. “Harlem Shake” has induced a similar phenomenon as Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.” Both songs inspired hundreds of thousands of home videos, remakes and spoofs, which people enjoy collecting.

Billboard realizes that adding YouTube into the chart calculations includes the preferences of the millions of people that visit the site each day. Silvio comments, “With digital download sales and streaming data measuring popularity on the most inclusive scale possible, it makes perfectly logical sense that the radio portion of the new chart calculations include airplay from the entire spectrum of monitored formats.”

While it was a shock last week to see a song that was not played every hour on the radio make the #1 spot, listeners tend to agree with Billboard’s choice to add YouTube to the rankings. While it makes sense to include YouTube, it must be done properly.

For example, one blogger writes: “You don’t want the Hot 100 to simply reflect how big YouTube is and consequently reward any song that can catch the public’s fancy on it, like the heretofore unknown Baauer. Billboard has been remarkably good at getting the balance right over many years, and I trust they have figured out how to tame the YouTube beast—lest we lurch from dance craze to dance craze at No. 1 all year long.”  

Changes in the Music Industry
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Posted on February 28, 2013
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Today is Washington’s birthday and I spent some time trying to find an appropriate song of the week to commemorate the first President of the United States. Mostly I found educational videos, classes of children singing and some disturbing rap cartoons. However, two videos made me laugh.

The first one is of a young George Washington struggling to write his inauguration speech, when inspiration strikes in the form of a rap.



The second one is not expertly executed, but I found it worthy for two reasons. First, one of my all-time favorite artists is Billy Joel, and I have to admit that I know all the words to “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” Secondly, in high school I took AP US History and on every test we had to write out all the presidents of the United States. I spent hours trying to memorize them, and if I had seen this parody back then, I would have aced that section of the test every time.

Posted on February 22, 2013
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modern music cartoon


When most people think of classical music they associate composers such as Beethovan, Mozart and Bach. Yet, classical music is still being composed every day. While we like to relish in the Baroque, Classical and Romantic music time periods, there is one music time period that is usually skipped over. Modern Music is the period from 1910 to present time.

Modern Music is a subgenre with a narrow group of listeners. Traditional classical music lovers say that they don’t typically like modern music because it is weird, chaotic and unstructured. Non-classical music listeners also are not interested because it sounds like traditional classical music. Across the board, people find modern music challenging to listen to.

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Posted on February 20, 2013
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When I’m out in a city rich with culture, I see many street serenaders. Usually they play the drums or guitar, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a piano out in a park. I may have seen someone playing a keyboard once or twice, but never a piano.

Marcia Ball’s video “That’s How It Goes” reveals the piano as a street instrument. The video features half a dozen different scenes, each with a brightly painted piano. I’ve never thought of piano music with a bicycle pump track in the background or people out exercising at a park and stopping to listen. As a piano player myself, I found it inspiring to see the piano out of the concert hall setting.

The comments about the video also mention that Marcia Ball did a live recording at each different site, rather than record in the studio and lip sync for the video. This gives the video an authentic feel, as if you are one of the people who just happened to stroll by while she was playing.

Marcia Ball will perform a live concert at the Strings Music Pavilion on Thursday, February 14. Buy your tickets today!

Posted on February 8, 2013
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“A sensational, saucy singer and superb pianist… where Texas stomp-rock and Louisiana blues-swamp meet” – USA Today

Marcia Ball

Since the age of five, Marcia Ball has put her fingers to the keys to bring her Texas heritage and Louisiana upbringing together into one musical sound. She took up the piano because her aunt had a piano, her grandmother had a piano and friends had pianos. The piano was a gathering place for friends and family and Marcia Ball knew she was next to learn to play.

Along the way she began to sing and develop her own sound that transformed her into a successful blues musician. She says, “My piano playing supports my singing and—to about the same extent—my singing supports my piano playing. I’m actually used to doing both at the same time and I lean on one to support the other. Basically, what I say is, I sing well enough to accompany my playing and I play well enough to accompany my singing.”

Her newest album Roadside Attractions is her 15th solo album, and her long musical history is apparent. She tells Chicago Blues Guide, “It’s pretty autobiographical. The songs might not be totally true, but it could have happened like that. That’s what writing is. It’s just somebody’s version of the truth. So I guess the album is my version of the truth.” 


Contemporary Female Vocalist of the Year
Five-time Best Blues Instrumentalist-Keyboards
Two-time Contemporary Blues Album of the Year
Contemporary Blues Artist of the Year-Female

Grammy Nominations
Sing It!
So Many Rivers
Live! Down The Road
Peace, Love & BBQ

Marcia Ball Live in Steamboat Springs
Marcia Ball will perform a romantic Valentine’s Day Concert at the Strings Music Pavilion on Thursday, February 14. Order tickets online or by calling the Box Office (970) 879-5056 x 105.

Posted on February 6, 2013
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chee yun

Having seen Chee-Yun perform live this summer at the Strings Music Pavilion I can certainly back up critics who rave about her “extraordinary talent” and “brilliant technique.” But the most fascinating aspect of her performance is how she makes playing the violin look easy. Nothing is more enjoyable than a concert where the musician has the power to involve you completely in the music.

This song of the week features Chee-Yun performing Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. The beginning of the clip is quite emotional with Chee-Yun extending the notes to build anticipation of the resolution. Then she effortlessly transitions to a fast tempo where her vigorous playing shines. No video can truly do her justice, but The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires is an excellent piece to understand the scope of Chee-Yun’s ability.

Posted on February 1, 2013
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