On Thursday, the two companies announced a plan to create the Billboard Twitter Real-Time Charts: continuously updated lists of the songs being discussed and shared the most on Twitter in the United States. The charts, to be published on Billboard.com and through the publication’s Twitter feed, are expected to be introduced in May.
“We have been looking for a way to do a real-time chart for some time,” said John Amato, co-president of the entertainment group of Guggenheim Media, a division of the private equity firm Guggenheim Partners, which owns Billboard. “We couldn’t think of a better way to do that than with Twitter.”
Music is the most widely discussed topic on Twitter, and seven of the top 10 accounts are those of pop stars like Katy Perry, who has the No. 1 Twitter account with nearly 52 million followers. But the company has struggled to find ways to exploit its music-related traffic, and the Billboard deal suggests an effort by Twitter to correct one of its rare public missteps: its #Music app.
Once it was clear to the company that #Music was a failure, “Twitter realized it should instead turn the conversation about music on its service into a different kind of value,” said James L. McQuivey, a technology analyst at Forrester Research. The Billboard deal “gives Twitter an authoritative, or more formal voice in the industry rather than the informal role it has played until now,” he added.
Rather than build another music service, Twitter has increasingly been looking to outside partnerships to help mine its data and integrate various forms of digital content. Last month, it announced a partnership with the music company 300, one of several music-tech deals recently that have focused on data as a way to seek out emerging talent. But in many ways, music is still an awkward fit on Twitter, where it is endlessly discussed but not easy to listen to.
Billboard’s Twitter charts will monitor not only the top tracks by popular artists but also “the most talked-about and shared songs by new and upcoming acts,” the companies said in a statement.
Mr. Amato said the new chart would monitor “positive” mentions about music and filter out negative ones, although the methodology for doing this was not announced. Billboard has frequently modified its charts to reflect changes in technology and music consumption. Last year, for example, it began incorporating data from YouTube, which allowed Baauer’s “Harlem Shake” — a song with modest sales but a huge response online — to become a No. 1 single.
For Billboard, the Twitter deal adds some Silicon Valley cachet as it tries to reinvent itself as a more consumer-oriented publication. Since Janice Min of The Hollywood Reporter took over the magazine in January, a changed Billboard has begun to take shape, with fewer gritty news columns and more space for celebrity and fashion coverage.
Bob Moczydlowsky, Twitter’s head of music, called the Billboard partnership “part of an ongoing effort to make Twitter the universal signal of real-time music measurement.”
“We want music business decisions to be based on Twitter data,” Mr. Moczydlowsky added, “and we want artists to know that when they share songs and engage with their audience on Twitter, the buzz they create will be visible to fans and industry decision-makers.”
In another music-data deal announced on Thursday, Songza, which makes thousands of ready-made playlists available for free listening, said it would work with the Weather Channel to customize playlists based on the weather, location and time of day.