Thursday, September 28, 2006

Digital Music Democracy

I wouldn't call it democracy, quite like the Digital Music Weblog does. Apparently, there hasn't been a very good system for creating top-40 lists or top-20 lists for singles, since most music is bought in album form. According to a BBC article,

"The current chart is actually fairly arbitrary," says Top 40 analyst James Masterton, who writes for Yahoo Music.

"A number of songs that are selling strongly have been removed."

For example, Nelly Furtado's hit song Maneater should still be in the Top 40 this week - but, because the CD is no longer available in shops, the song has been dropped from the chart.

I don't think digital downloads are necessarily going to democratize best-seller lists, just because searchability and easier production don't really impact taste. There will always be a "short head," as Chris Anderson likes to put it, and a "long tail." But it will definitely allow lesser-known (or one-hit wonders) to rise to the top of those charts, simply because people are OK risking $1 on a song they might not like, rather than spend $15 on an entire album without much guarantee of quality. And, like BBC says, the top-40 will be much more accurate.

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