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YouTube gets legit on the Billboard Hot 100

YouTube is a mecca for musical artists. Now their video hits can send them to the top of the Billboard charts.

When I was a kid growing up in the last century and there was a new song I liked, I’d wait by the radio to catch it. But that equation has changed, says Camy Jun, a 20-year-old sophomore at Chapman College.

“At home listening to music, I’ll either listen to YouTube or iTunes and I listen to the radio when I’m in the car, but never outside of that,” says Jun.

And when Jun hears a song on the radio she likes, she goes to YouTube to find it. And that’s also where she discovers new music.

“Everybody always knew that there was a lot of consumption and that Youtube is a phenomenal venue to break new artist and break new songs,” said Robert Kyncl, the head of global content at YouTube. He says YouTube’s been part of the music hit-making ecosystem for quite a while now.

“We are part of the ecosytem, we shouldn’t be isolated and sit out there on an island,” Kyncl said.

Billboard has been including data from major streaming music sites like Spotify and Rhapsody but it just started including YouTube today. And that’s put the "Harlem Shake" -- a song that’s also become a popular video meme on YouTube -- to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. "Harlem Shake" is the first song by a virtual unknown to hit the top of the charts.

Andrea Domanick is an entertainment writer at the Las Vegas Sun. She says if artists want a song to be a hit, it’s almost essential to have it on YouTube.

“There’s been maybe one or two occasions where I have not been able to find a song I wanted to listen to on YouTube and it’s been incredibly frustrating,” said Domanick. “And I remember thinking, what, why, how does this person not have this song up? Do they not want people to hear their music?”

Domanick says YouTube is basically the new radio, and it’s about time Billboard acknowledged it.

About the author

Queena Kim covers technology for Marketplace. She lives in the Bay Area.
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