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What is today called the Billboard Hot 100 existed for nearly fifteen years as numerous charts that tracked and ranked the most popular singles of the day in several areas.

    During the 1940s and 1950s, popular singles were ranked in three areas:

        1. Best Sellers In Stores — ranked the biggest selling singles in retail stores
            (as reported by merchants surveyed throughout the United States)

        2. Most Played By Disc Jockeys — on United States radio stations
            (reported by radio disc jockeys and radio stations)

        3. Most Played In Jukeboxes —  across the United States.
            This was one of the main outlets of measuring song popularity with the
            younger generation of music listeners, as many radio stations resisted
            adding rock 'n roll music to their playlists for many years.

    Although officially all three charts had equal weight in terms of their
    importance, many chart historians refer to the Best Sellers In Stores chart
    when referencing a song’s performance prior to the creation of The Hot 100.

    Billboard eventually created a fourth singles popularity chart that combined all
    aspects of a single’s performance (sales, airplay and jukebox activity), based
    on a point system that typically gave purchases more weight than radio

In November of 1955, Billboard published The Top 100 for the first time. The Best Sellers In Stores, Most Played By Jockeys and Most Played In Jukeboxes charts continued to be published concurrently with the new Top 100 chart.

In June of 1957, Billboard discontinued the Most Played In Jukeboxes chart, as radio stations incorporated more and more rock-oriented music into their playlists.

In August of 1958, Billboard premiered one main all-genre singles chart:
the Hot 100.

    Although similar to the Top 100, the first Hot 100 chart reset all songs’ "weeks
    on chart" status to "1". The Hot 100 quickly became the industry standard and
    Billboard discontinued the Best Sellers In Stores chart in October of 1958.

    Billboard produces the Hot 100 to this day and it is still the standard by which
    a song’s popularity is measured in the United States. The Hot 100 is still
    compiled by combining a song’s radio airplay points and sales points.

    There are several component charts that contribute:

    1. Hot 100 Airplay — approximately 1,000 radio stations are digitally monitored
                                           Adult Contemporary

     2. Number of gross audience impressions, computed by cross-referencing
         exact times of radio airplay with Arbitron listener data.

     3. Hot 100 Singles Sales — compiled from a national sample of retail store,
         mass merchant and internet sales reports collected, compiled, and provided
         by Nielsen Sound Scan.

    4. Hot Digital Songs — Digital sales are tracked by Nielsen SoundScan and are
         included as part of a title's sales points.

Today, songs are ranked by not only Sales and Air Play, but are also based on what we call:

ADD'S  This is based on the radio station's playlist and where the individual radio station ranks a particular song.  If you Add a song to a top 100 play list one has to go.

Sound Scan  is a satellite tracking system.  Every song now  has a digital code imbedded inside itself.  The human ear can't detect it- but the Nielsen satellite can. Whenever a song is aired on any radio station anywhere in the U.S., the Nielsen satellite tracking system  "hears" it and documents that play. 

So every day, the Nielsen satellite compiles a list of every song, played everywhere and decides which songs are most popular based on how many times each song was played   ....... Pretty amazing, huh?

For even more MUSIC INFORMATION please see:
 Jamrock's Recommended Music Lyrics and Information Links Page

        AFIs 100 Years of American Films Top 100 Songs
        Billboard Music Awards Listed by Artist
        Billboard Hot 100 Standard Singles Ranking System

Nielsen soundscan