For years, it’s been an institution – counting down the top 40 to discover what will be this week’s number one song.
But from tomorrow there will be a new number one in town. In fact, there will be an entirely new music chart – The Hot 40 – offering an alternative insight into what Kiwis are listening to.
The Hot 40 won’t replace the Top 40 chart, which will continue in its present form. Instead, The Hot 40 will track how popular a song is as it gains new listeners, streams and radio airplay.
As Paul Kennedy from Recorded Music New Zealand explains: “What these charts measure is not the volume of sales and streams each week but the amount of change that’s happened in the week.”
So just what does that mean?
“It means you have to keep growing fans and keep getting new fans,” he says. “Now, you’ve got your first week to shine but then the only way to stay in The Hot 40 is to get another group of people to listen to you. There’s a natural limit on that.
“It will be very dynamic. There will be lots of new releases in there and things that people are freshly discovering.”
It’s a project Kennedy has been working on for more than six months, after concerns were raised last year around the lack of diversity and movement in the Top 40 since the introduction of streaming services, such as Spotify and Apple Music.
The problems were explored thoroughly by the Herald last year in our special feature, Don’t Stream It’s Over, which looked at how New Zealand music had all but disappeared from the Top 40 singles chart.
“Since  the number of Kiwi artists to produce a top 40 single in a single year has declined from 26 to just two. Lorde and Six60 are the only Kiwis to have charted this year.”
At the time, Recorded Music NZ signalled it was looking at alternative charts and how the industry measures success.
Now, after several weeks mining the data and a fair amount of “trial and error”, The Hot 40 is ready to roll.
“The trials that we’ve done so far, we’ve seen a lot more NZ music in that chart and a lot more diversity of artists. And much quicker turnover,” says Kennedy.
“The trials confirmed what we hoped, which was that it will be different from the Top 40. We were pleasantly surprised by how much NZ content got in there – that’s partly to do with the radio impact.”
One of the key differences to the Top 40 is that The Hot 40 will include radio play in its data set.
“Radio is really useful data because it has a lot more NZ content in it. That was one of the things we wanted to achieve. It’s useful for local record labels to help support local releases. They can pitch to radio in a way that they can’t pitch to Spotify or iTunes,” explains Kennedy.
The new model of the chart is a world-first and Kennedy says there has already been international interest in what we’re up to and whether it will work.
The first official Hot 40 chart will be released tomorrow and every Friday thereafter. A second chart, The Hot New Zealand 20 will use the same model to track local releases separately.
Source: NZ Herald