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NMC eChart Methodology

The Net Music Countdown is a project that has three sets of output:
Creating the eTracks
Central to all the content is the eTracks. Tracked in six formats, the eTracks are published each week in the radio and recording industry's number 1 destination online, AllAccess, and are used to form the countdown aspect of the Net Music Countdown radio shows.

We've contacted every major digital music oriented site and asked them to tell us each week what their top selling or streaming music is. We then take that information and, using a formula that changes with the landscape of the digital music space, compile a summary chart of the most popular music for each week. If you'd like to become a reporter to the Net Music Countdown, and your site plays or sells music on the Internet, we'd love to hear from you. Please visit our Become a Reporter page to contact us.

The six eTracks we produce each week are:

Alt Rock: Alternative and Active Rock hits
Artists: Foo Fighters, Incubus and Rise Against.

CHR/Pop: Pop and Top 40 hits
Artists: Daughtry, Nickelback and Pink.

Hot AC: Hot Adult Contemporary hits
Artists: Dido, Sting and The Fray.

Country: Country hits
Artists: Dirks Bentley, Jason Michael Carroll and Reba McEntire.

Urban: Hip Hop and R&B hits
Artists: Justin Timberlake, Keyshia Cole and T-Pain.

Sales: Sales rankings of our sales reporters
Artists: 50 Cent, Kenny Chesney and Rascal Flatts.

How We Rank the Music
The breakdown of the equation that allows our chart team to create the most accurate representation of the popularity of music on the Internet changes from time to time. Currently, here is our ranking equation:

  • raw sales rank x traffic weighting = sales rank
  • raw streaming rank x traffic weighting = streaming rank
  • sales rank x .25 + streaming rank x .50 + CDDB rank x .25 = final rank
Let's explain this further. In order to arrive at a realistic view of what music is being heard and sold most often, we ask our reporters to give us either the top 25 streaming cuts for the week, or the top 125 selling CDs or digital files for the week.

We then take those rankings, assign them descending amounts based on rank, and then weight those rankings based on the traffic and time spent listening of the site whose ranking list we are examining. As an example, Amazon.com has higher traffic and higher overall sales than does some of our other sales reporters. We total up the traffic for all of our reporters, and then look at the percentage of overall traffic each reporter has. That becomes their weighting. This weighting occurs with both sales reporters and streaming reporters.

Gracenote/CDDB: A Unique Metric
The third component of our equation is from CDDB/Gracenote, which tracks a third key metric: the ranking of CDs being placed in CD-ROM drives and being ripped into MP3s, or played back on computer-based audio players. Gracenote receives the highest weighting of any of our reporters as they are trafficked over 28 million times per day. You can tell when you are becoming a part of their database when you put a CD in your PC or Mac and all of the cuts' titles appear in the player. That's because you're hooked up to the Net, and your player is CDDB-aware.

We take these lists and track each format of music individually, and finally arrive at our final eTracks for the week. We also break out our sales only reporters and arrive at our Sales eChart, in which our streaming reporters and CDDB play no role.

The Future: Agility of the eTracks
As other statistically meaningful data options present themselves, we'll take advantage of them and alter our equation and philosophy to match the current state of the art in digital music tracking. As an example, we look forward to the day when individual MP3 files (or equivalent) can be purchased on the Internet. The day will come when one can purchase pretty much anything they want, and when that happens, we'll add that to our tracking criteria. Watch this page for updates.

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