Social networking data incorporated to challenge Billboard tally

Beverly Hills-based media metrics firm BigChampagne has initiated a new chart, termed the “Ultimate Chart,” which tracks current hits using a combination of sales, airplay and social networking data.

Formally announced by BigChampagne’s CEO Eric Garland at the New Music Seminar in New York on Tuesday, the Ultimate Chart is clearly being positioned as a 21st century alternative to Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles rundown.

Initiated by the trade mag in 1955, that comprehensive 100-position listing is currently compiled using point-of-sale information from Nielsen SoundScan, airplay data from Broadcast Data Systems and data from such streaming services as AOL and Yahoo!

BigChampagne, long a leader in measuring online traffic, has extended the parameters for its chart to include, in its words, “retailers, online and traditional broadcastvenues where fans demonstrate their passion for music.”

Partners in the venture include Yahoo! Music, Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, VEVO, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, MTV, ClearChannel, MediaBase, AOL, Napster, Microsoft Zune, We Are Hunted and LastFM.

Garland said in a statement, “The Ultimate Chart examines music sales and radio airplay and the access to music, and socializing around music, that are growing much faster. We’re rewriting the top of the charts for the new music business and enlisting the help of its chief architects to surface the most popular music that the charts have overlooked.”

The BigChampagne chart aims to track not just current hits but buzz as well. However, initially at least, the Ultimate Chart bears a strong resemblance to the Hot 100: The inaugural edition, for the week ending July 13, flip-flops the positions of Billboard’s current No. 1 and 2 songs, Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” and Eminem’s “Love the Way You Lie.”

BigChampagne also said it plans to develop an Ultimate Chart for independent and DIY artists, and will partner with such indie players as Tunecore, CD Baby, Disc Makers, MySpace Music and Reverb Nation to formulate its data.

One Billboard vet, former editor in chief Tamara Conniff, hailed the BigChampagne venture in a statement issued by the company.

“This chart is long overdue and represents for the first time an accurate view of where popular music is today,” said Conniff, who recently founded the blog TheComet. “Music is not just about sales, it’s about interaction — listening, watching, playlisting, evangelizing and socializing.”

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