Rolling Stone Charts: Frequently Asked Questions – Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone Charts: Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Rolling Stone Charts and why are you launching them?
The Rolling Stone Charts are a set of in-depth, editorially independent music charts that offer unprecedented transparency into what’s popular in music. Listening patterns in the digital age have shifted and splintered, and streaming services have changed the game forever — so traditional, once-a-week metrics just aren’t representative of the industry anymore. Our charts offer an in-the-moment view of the biggest songs, albums, and artists as they pop up. We want to give both music fans and music creators an unfettered glimpse into what’s really happening.

How are these charts different from what’s already out there?
Every other music chart updates on a weekly basis, but that practice is out of date with actual consumer trends. These days, a song can soar overnight. The Rolling Stone Charts are faster, easier to parse, and more reflective of in-the-moment music listening than those of any competitors. Our charts refresh with new data as it comes in, on a daily basis, and offer deeper insight into the composition of that data than what’s ever been available before. We also track only the metrics most closely tied to actual consumer interest, meaning that more passive formats like terrestrial radio are excluded from many of the charts. In the event of chart position disputes, we want to engage in discussion and never shy away from it.

What charts do you have?
In our beta launch period, we currently offer five charts: the Rolling Stone Top 100 Songs; the Rolling Stone Top 200 Albums; the Rolling Stone Artists 500; the Rolling Stone Trending 25; and the Rolling Stone Breakthrough 25. But stay tuned for many more.

What is Alpha Data, the company providing the data for the charts?
Alpha Data, formerly known as BuzzAngle Music, is an independent data analytics firm under the umbrella of Penske Media Corporation, which also owns Rolling Stone. The three-year-old company has established itself as an industry leader by providing granular sales tracking in its professional-tier product. Alpha Data is the data supplier for the Rolling Stone Charts, but the two companies operate as separate entities.

What does it mean that the charts “update daily”?
Alpha Data collects data from dozens of types of suppliers — such as streaming services, physical retailers, and record labels — and that data is updated on the Rolling Stone Charts on a daily basis. We aim to update as closely to real-time as possible. However, some data providers may be slower than others in reporting numbers, causing the charts to refresh with new data one or two days after the date itself. (For instance, streaming data for Tuesday may occasionally be added on Thursday.) The charts display whether the data reporting is “in progress” or “final.” Each official week of chart data — Friday to Thursday — should not be considered finalized until Rolling Stone announces it as such on the following Monday morning.

Can I view each day of data on its own?
At the moment you can view either “week to date” chart data or finalized chart data from the previous week, but we are building out a comprehensive design that will let you more closely parse the specific days of data each week.

I’m an artist. How do I get on the Rolling Stone Charts?
Your songs and/or albums must rank highly on the metrics used to compile the charts, which include various forms of music streaming, digital music downloads, and physical music sales. The charts are purely quantitative; the Rolling Stone editorial team has no input on chart positions. Chart positions are tallied by Alpha Data, which is entirely independent of Rolling Stone’s newsroom.

Is a stream counted as a sale? How are different listening methods like streams, song downloads and physical purchases all considered together?
Counting sales and streams on a 1:1 basis would be comparing apples to pomegranate seeds. The Rolling Stone Charts track various methods of music consumption together via “song units” and “album units,” assigning a specific weight to streams, downloads, and sales. For a list of those carefully developed rules and how they work, visit our detailed methodology.

What kinds of streams do you count?
The charts track audio streaming, whether paid or unpaid, from on-demand music-streaming services, which are the dominant way fans listen to music.

How do the Rolling Stone Charts deal with music bundling?
Album or song bundling, also known as “direct-to-consumer” (D2C) sales, refers to the practice of offering music in a merchandise package sale. Whether to limit the eligibility of these bundles on music charts is currently a topic of industry debate; in accordance with music industry standards, the Rolling Stone Charts currently cap the number of eligible bundled items at specific quotas for each chart, and we will continue to evolve with industry discussion.

How do the Rolling Stone Charts deal with UGC video?
User-generated content (i.e. unofficial videos featuring songs in them) is also a current topic of industry debate because of the opacity of that type of data. While we do not currently represent video streaming in our charts, we are in ongoing discussions with the music industry about how to achieve greater transparency around the tracking and representation of UGC video, after which we hope to include video-streaming data in our charts. Video data is available to view within Alpha Data’s professional industry product.

Can I find even more detailed information on a specific release?
The Rolling Stone Charts are not able to supply sensitive sales information to the public, but detailed sales information on specific works is available to business users via Alpha Data’s Pro service.

Do the charts offer global data?
We currently represent U.S. music consumption, but we’re keen to broaden that scope, and international expansion is in the works.

I represent an artist. How do I request a change to photos or information?
Artist photography and album art auto-populate through Alpha Data’s system. Our charts team will be able to field your request at charts@rollingstone.com.

How do I get in touch with you if I spot a bug or error?
Please email charts@rollingstone.com, which is an inbox monitored full-time by our charts team. For media/press inquiries, email press@pmc.com. Rolling Stone’s mailing address is 475 Fifth Avenue, 10th Floor, New York, New York 10017.

Back to the Rolling Stone Charts

General Methodology