As a measure of overnight popularity, the number of views a music video garners on YouTube in its first 24 hours has become a key yardstick for bragging rights for artists and fans.
Now the Google-owned video giant has officially changed its methodology for YouTube Music Charts to no longer count paid advertising views in 24-hour tallies. Going forward, artists’ music debuts will now be ranked based on view counts only from organic plays.
“Our goal is to ensure YouTube remains a place where all artists are accurately recognized and celebrated for achieving success and milestones,” YouTube said in a blog post Friday.
The changes are designed “to provide more transparency to the industry” and align with the policies of official charting companies such as Billboard and Nielsen, YouTube said in the post.
YouTube said the changes will not affect existing 24-hour record debut holders.
The current record holder for YouTube 24-hour views is K-pop group BTS, whose single “Boy With Luv” featuring Halsey racked up 74.6 million views in the first 24 hours this April. That’s followed by Taylor Swift’s “Me!” featuring Brendon Urie (65.2 million); Blackpink’s “Kill This Love” (56.7 million); and Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” (55.4 million).
The issue of boosting 24-hour views came to a head this summer, when Indian rapper Badshah’s “Paagal” video apparently eclipsed BTS’s record with 75 million views in the first 24 hours of its July 10 release, according to his label, Sony Music India. But YouTube declined to credit the artist with setting the record, evidently because many of the views were driven by paid ads. Meanwhile, according to Bloomberg, the premieres of both Taylor Swift’s “Me!” and Blackpink’s “Kill This Love” were also promoted via ads on YouTube.
Badshah acknowledged his video received paid promotion but accused YouTube of singling him out. “You think artists abroad don’t get paid promotions? Are you so naive?” he wrote in an Instagram Story posted in July, per Billboard. “I don’t want to be the one with the highest views, but someone has to be. I tried and i did it. Get over it.”
Under the new YouTube policy, videos eligible for 24-hour record debuts are those with the highest views from organic sources. Those include direct links to the video, search results, external sites that embed the video, as well as YouTube features like the homepage, “watch next” recommendations and the trending page.
“Staying true to YouTube’s overall mission of giving everyone a voice and showing them the world, we want to celebrate all artist achievements on YouTube as determined by their global fans,” the video platform said in the blog. “It’s the artists and fans that have made YouTube the best and most accurate measure of the world’s listening tastes, and we intend on keeping it that way.”
According to a Rolling Stone report last week, record labels that have bought adds to juice 24-hour view counts on YouTube include Universal Latin and Sony Latin. Music companies have paid $20,000 to $60,000 — and up to $100,000 in “extreme cases” — on ads to boost views in the first 24 hours of release, per the article.