(March 8, 2020). Seven months ago, Facebook entered the “official” music video field in the U.S., instantly making it a more competitive industry and giving the video giant YouTube a run for its money.
Now, licensed music videos posted directly to artists’ Facebook pages – and shared by you with friends and family – will begin counting towards the weekly Billboard charts. The change will become effective beginning with the tracking week running from Friday, March 12 through Thursday, March 18, which will feed the charts dated March 27, 2021. Facebook’s views will be added to the YouTube (and other video outlets’) video streaming numbers already captured by Nielsen/MRC Data – the data provider for all of Billboard’s charts.
This change will affect both the main singles and album charts – the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard 200, respectively – as well as all genre-specific charts like Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs or Hot Country Songs that use song streaming data as input.
Here’s the blog’s understanding of how it all will work (and how videos you post or share will contribute):
With Facebook officially entering the “licensed” music video world last August through its U.S. Premium Video Streams program, it immediately created a new venue for artists and labels to market their material directly from their own pages. Many artists have had their own Facebook pages for years, but now – with the 2020 change – artists have the ability to have their official videos automatically uploaded by Facebook when they’re received from the artist’s label.
If you follow an artist’s page, then you will be notified of the new video’s existence and can share it via Facebook Watch on your personal timeline or with friends or other groups to which you belong. Any clicks of the licensed video generated either directly from the artist’s page or from shares by fans will now count toward the Billboard charts. Fans will be encouraged by the social media giant to create or join Facebook Group pages dedicated to artists they (or their friends with similar interests) have followed, which will in turn connect more people with shared artist and song interests, ultimately increasing consumption of those artists’ music and resulting in higher chart placement in Billboard.
Ever since February 2013, music streaming has been a factor in the Billboard charts. In January 2020, video streaming was added to the mix, with YouTube views (directly from the platform or as accessed by posts of YouTube clips to other social media) being counted along with streams from platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and Pandora.
For many years, YouTube has been the biggest and, some would say, only game in town when it came to music video hosts. To encourage increased consumption by fans, as well as curb bootleg posts of their product by the video platform’s billions of users, artists have created their own “official” YouTube pages where they regularly engage fans and post music videos as they’re released. Those videos can generate upwards of hundreds of millions of views (and lots of ad-generated revenue for YouTube) in very short order and, since 2020, have contributed to a song’s chart action in Billboard.
With Facebook’s official entry into the field as a video host, it gives artists and labels another vehicle by which to generate and cultivate fan interest. Adding data from the social media giant’s video views to the Billboard charts ups the ante and creates a level of competition for YouTube that did not exist previously. It is seen by the industry as a long overdue means of addressing what they’ve viewed as too small a compensation by YouTube to labels and artists for having their product on that ad-supported platform.
According to an article in “TechCrunch” last July, YouTube accounted for 46% of the world’s music streaming outside of China in 2017, which included data from pure music streaming sites like Spotify and Apple Music. YouTube had claimed that over 1 billion fans came to its site to connect with music from 2 billion artists (I didn’t realize that one out of every 4 people worldwide made music, but that’s a different story for a different day).
YouTube, according to a post by its CEO Susan Wojcicki in February 2020 – on the occasion of the company’s 15th anniversary – paid $3 billion to the music industry in 2019 from ads and subscriptions. In that same statement, she cited the astronomical successes of artists like Billie Eilish, Justin Bieber and Lil Nas X as evidence of the power of YouTube’s partnership with the industry.
Now, with competition from Facebook, I’m sure the industry has everything to gain and very little to lose as it ups the ante for YouTube’s compensation to labels and artists for exclusive – or even shared – rights to their product.
What will not change (for now):
Any YouTube video links you post or share on your Facebook page, or to any Facebook Group to which you belong, will be handled the same as they had previously. Those links automatically redirected users to YouTube where the videos were originally uploaded, and those clicks will continue to be counted toward the Billboard charts as they have since January 2020.
So for any of my friends in the music Facebook Groups to which I belong, such as Lost Pop Hits (M.I.A.), SoulMusic.com, Album of the Moment, and Classic Old School Music & Memories, the videos you post from YouTube will continue to boost your favorite songs’ chart performances, as incremental as that contribution may be. The recent Facebook advancements just give you another platform from which to share those videos.
Also, any Facebook user-generated videos where a person plays music as part of the background will not be counted towards that song’s chart metrics, which is also the case with any YouTube fan-generated videos. Per most music licensing rules, those videos can only contain short snippets of the songs in question anyway, and often users will post disclaimers on either their Facebook or YouTube pages denying ownership of any license for the music being played. YouTube generally lets users know when they’ve violated a licensing or copyright rule and Facebook will likely be doing the same as it grows its music-hosting platform.
So what does it all mean?
By the blog’s estimation, terrestrial radio airplay and physical/digital sales of music will continue to contribute even less, percentage-wise, to a song’s Billboard chart performance. Instead, streaming – and video streaming in particular – will continue to increase its share of any given song’s weekly points total going forward.
This means artists will have even more incentive to engage fans in innovative ways from their Facebook (or YouTube) pages through things like live online concert performances or even live video interview feeds as they release new material. Fans will also likely have to pay more attention as labels grant “exclusive” initial video rights to either Facebook or YouTube, whichever is the highest bidder in this more competitive market.
But, more than anything, it means that we old longtime chart followers (mostly Baby Boomers and Generation Xers) will have yet another reason to bemoan the impacts of streaming on today’s charts and how they create an apples-and-oranges comparison to the accomplishments of our favorite artists from the pre-streaming era (I still can’t accept Nicki Minaj having more chart “hits” than Aretha Franklin).
We can complain, of course, but just know that the videos we post and share will actually count, too.
DJRob is a freelance music blogger from somewhere on the East Coast who covers R&B, hip-hop, pop and rock genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff! You can follow him on Twitter at @djrobblog.
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