The Race For Billboard #1: Why Is It So Important?
Updated: Mar 23
The race for billboard #1 has been a massive topic of discussion in recent weeks since the surge of top tier artists, that have been ruling the charts for years, using what looks to be ingenious and inorganic methods to get their singles of albums to the top of the charts. There are a few questions to be asked here; why do these huge superstars look to be using desperate tactics to claim number 1 spot? And secondly, why is it so important that the artists sacrifice their credibility for such? These questions will be answered as we delve deeper into this article. However, this recent activity is not new at all, for years fans have accused artists and their labels of purchasing their albums even though the music didn't resonate with its audience, maintaining the illusion of the artist still being on top of their game even though there has been a clear decline.
Not every artist can have the chart success of artists such as Drake or sell millions of hard copy albums like Adele, therefore the decline after a strong run is inevitable for every artist and the audience understand that. What has now become a recurring situation in the music industry is strange streaming tactics and disgruntled comments from artists that fail to reach the top spot. Did anybody say, Nicki Minaj?...Nevermind. Last year, we saw this last year with the release of DJ Khaled's album Father Of Asad, which came on the same day as Tyler the Creator's Grammy-nominated and critically acclaimed project IGOR. After Tyler claimed his first #1 album on the Billboard hot 200, DJ Khaled took to social media to express his dismay and anger about his measly #2 spot on the charts.
DJ Khaled's apparent subliminal comments towards Tyler's album brought him a lot of backlash, but why was he so upset? Well from a superficial standpoint, the chart is about musical staus and how music fans are receiving your project enough to stream it or purchase it. This, therefore, adds to the brand of the artist and they can use that as leverage within and outside of music for business partnerships and contractual agreements with their label. Also, some artists may have clauses in their contracts for bonuses when they reach #1 on the charts. Charting #1 on Billboard is not only a great accolade to have on your Wikipedia page but also a weapon in the board room when trying to gain more ownership and creative control in an artist's musical career. Also, another benefit of this chart position is that listeners that would otherwise ignore your music may be much more likely to listen because it seems as though everyone else is. This increases your steams and purchases which therefore give you more leverage and financial benefits.
Recently we have seen huge artists such as Justin Beiber, after a hiatus from music, come back with his single 'Yummy'. He asked fans in a social media post to do some things that seem to be unnatural tactics to get the song to the top of the charts, some of them being; steaming the album while you sleep and buying the song multiple times on iTunes. Okay, let's be honest, for any young and up and coming artist these tactics are not new at all, if you are finding it difficult to garner steams at all, maybe you should stream your album nonstop for 24 hours straight. However, that is only one part of the problem when it comes to an established artist. Another reason why these tactics are ingenious and damage the perception of the artists are the fact that they are already garnering millions of streams organically and using these tactics as a nitrogen boost to get them to the top while other artists such as Roddy Ricch, who recently got his first #1 song on the Billboard hot 100 with his single The Box, have to suffer the consequences of manipulating the system. It almost seems like a desperate attempt to maintain a dictatorship on the billboard thrown. Roddy Ricch is an artist that his audience has seen his amazing growth from his entrance into the music industry, freestyling in his city of Compton to being recognised by major stars in his genres such as Meek Mill and Nipsey Hussle. Roddy Ricch has managed to release an album that people have consistently gravitated to allowing him to be the front runner in the race for #1 on both major Billboard charts.
Although these situations may seem to be stifling young artists such as Roddy Ricch, it signifies a changing of the guard and the change of what it means to be a 'Popstar'. It all starts and ends at the music and the best music will always be recognised over time and make an impact. This will not be the last time we see orchestrated plans to reach the top of the charts but the power remains with the people.