Are artists cheating for a number 1 hit?

What happened?

If you went through the charts last week, you must have heard them: the new tracks Stuck With U by Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, and Gooba of 6ix9ine. The track of rapper 6ix9ine was the first he released since he was out of prison. Within no time, the clip on YouTube had millions of views. More than the clip of Bieber and Grande. But that wasn‘t enough to get number one on the Billboard Hot 100, a major American charts. Bieber and Grande got that place. 6ix9ine ended in third place. According to 6ix9ine, that didn’t go fair. In a video on Instagram, he said that the two cheated, and bought their number one spot.

Why do I need to know this?

Looking out of the playlist that‘s been on repeat for a week? With one look at the charts, you’re all up to date again. Useful for you, but also important for artists. A high spot in the list means that their music is doing well, and it gives them something. Bookings for festivals, for example. Or be played more often on the radio.

Tom van der Weerd, DJ at SLAM!, also checks the charts for his shows: โ€œThey reflect what is popular among your target audience, what people want to hear. That‘s the music we play.โ€ The more often a song comes on the radio, the more money for the artist. And perhaps more successful: โ€œIf you score high, you have a better chance that your next song will be successful again, because you still have the attention of that previous hit.โ€

You don’t just score a hit like that by making a really good record. There are all tricks to get higher in the charts. For example, by bundling: sell merchandise or tickets and add a new single or album. Also, fans of some artists sometimes call on each other to stream a song very often, and for example to repeat when they sleep.

According to 6ix9ine, Bieber and Grande went a step further. He claims that the duo with six credit cards bought tens of thousands of times their own single. He also thinks Billboard doesn‘t count all his streams. According to him, his new song did a lot better.

Who finds what?

Bieber and Grande weren’t happy with those accusations. On Insta, the two wrote that it is not possible to buy your own song so often with a credit card. You can buy a song up to four times per card. โ€œAnyone who is not satisfied with his place on the charts and tries to disprove women‘s hard work better be thankful that there are people at all listening to your music,โ€ wrote Grande about the accusations.

Billboard bit off, too. In this article the company explains how this charts is made. The song of Bieber and Grande got 28.1 million streams in the United States, came 26.3 million on the radio and sold 108,000 times. That of 6ix9ine was streamed more often: 55.3 million times. But his track was only played 172,000 times on the radio and sold 24,000 times, a lot less than Ariana and Justin. Billboard says that streams count heavier, but that according to their calculations 6ix9ine does not rise above the duo.

According to Tom, we’re probably never gonna find out if there‘s anything right about the rapper’s accusations. But if it were true, according to Tom, that is a problem: โ€œIf you can buy hits, then in a way hits and charts aren‘t worth anything anymore. In addition, a radio station would cut itself into the fingers by turning โ€œpurchasedโ€ hits, which are not in demand from the target audience at all.โ€

So no first place for 6ix9ine, but it will be played once extra later. Tom: โ€œSuch a riot is of course a nice reason to talk about it and play that music too.โ€

How important is this Billboard list?

This story is about the Billboard Hot 100, which is the oldest and most famous hit list in the United States, which is also watched by music lovers from the rest of the world. Every Tuesday he comes online.

Is there cheating in the Netherlands?

It’s hard to say. The research program Rambam once showed that it was easy to manipulate the Top 40 with downloads. Since then, the Top 40 has stopped looking at download numbers there.