Hey, Reddit!

We work at Billboard - we create the charts, produce the magazine, chat with music fans online and write articles about the music business/world of music fandom. We just re-launched our magazine, both websites, and created a tablet edition of the magazine and we've recently introduced some new charts, as well.

Some of us are regular Redditors and see Reddit chatting back and forth about our charts, articles, (recent) logo/design changes and other music-related topics on the regular.

So, Reddit, as us anything.

Who's participating...

Proof: https://twitter.com/billboard/status/297028548890341378

Update: We're still checking in to answer questions but are calling this AMA officially at an end for now. Thanks for being so awesome!

Comments: 196 • Responses: 58  • Date: 

OpTHOMASprime9 karma

what is your perfect date?

BillWerde10 karma

i have two kids and this job. if i get an hour alone and uninterrupted with my wife, it's a small miracle. that said, a nice bottle of '98 Krug helps. and a vegan meal please.

OpTHOMASprime9 karma

i would of gone for april 25th but your answer seems fun

RealJoeLevy4 karma

April 9th totally kicks April 25th's ass. Just saying.

misskatiemo6 karma

I've always been partial to April 2.

NilesRiver7 karma

October 19th is the best date....in here points to heart

misskatiemo1 karma


misskatiemo5 karma

As far as a "date date" goes I'm not married, so I go on some of these things you call "dates".

Perfect date? In the winter? Dinner at a local NYC restaurant with killer food (I <3 hidden places) and perhaps catching a show afterwards.

Summer? Let's go kayaking!

Magnum137 karma

Do you believe that in the present, alternative music is at it's peak in terms of popularity?

BillWerde7 karma

alternative music was at its peak in the early to mid 90s, id say, hen grunge and lollapalooza emerged to become very mainstream.

Salacious-6 karma

Can you describe the methodology for measuring how popular a particular song is at the moment?

BillWerde24 karma

Mostly it has to do with the size of the check i receive from the record label. After that i consider whether or not that label's president has recently purchased me a quality meal and/or whether a strong vintage of wine was served. I'm kidding, of course. There's a number of ways we track song success. Our most popular chart, the Billboard Hot 100 measures streaming music from services such as Spotify; downloads from stores including iTunes, Amazon and others; and radio play, along with a few other odds and ends. Other charts include other data as appropriate. For example, our Dance chart also includes elements of club play.

NGU-Ben15 karma

I believed that first sentence until you said you were kidding.

BillWerde10 karma

i would drive a much nicer car, were it so.

NGU-Ben3 karma

What car are you driving right now then? If I may ask.

BillWerde4 karma

i drive a honda civic. i think it's a 2010? i dont believe in cars tho. i believe in public transportation whenever possible, and will occasionally walk places that people tell me they'd never walk. Like, anywhere in Los Angeles, for example, where i swear people get in their cars to get the paper at the end of their driveway.

Salacious-7 karma

Interesting, thanks. Ever tried factoring in piracy?

Imadeepseadiver4 karma

I think that could create a shift in the type of music represented in Billboard. A lot of the music pirated isn't what you normally see on these types of charts. THen again, I'm sure a lot of popular music is pirated.

Also, because of the illegality of piracy, it would be hard to collect the data without running into a lot of roadblocks.

BillWerde11 karma

there are companies out there collecting this data and we have entertained and are entertaining partnerships. truth is, it doesn't reveal much in the way of trends that are any different from the existing charts we have. the most played hits at radio tend to be most streamed at spotify, most purchased at itunes, most pirated at bit torrent, etc. there are exceptions of course, but this is the general rule.

KurtTrowbridge6 karma

What kinds of apps or programs do you use at Billboard - for writing articles, compiling chart data, etc.?

Thanks for doing this; the Twitter chat a while ago was fun, so this should be too (though I'm new to Reddit)!

BillWerde5 karma

we use Adobe InDesign for the magazine. we use Adobe for our magazine ipad edition also. We publish our sites on Drupal. SocialFlow and HootSuite for social. I have also been known to use Word to compose a document. My favorite app right now is VidRhythm. I use it to endlessly entertain my kids but it's a fun party app too.

[deleted]6 karma


BillWerde6 karma

a lot of fans of that one on staff. i LOVE it. and i love them. for the life of me, i cant understand why Closer isnt a much bigger hit than it currently is in the US.

[deleted]2 karma


BillWerde6 karma

good songs are good songs. i liek the new sound, but i liked their older stuff too. i love artists taking chances.

pogochamp1135 karma

Who are your personal top 3 artists?

misskatiemo8 karma

Michael Jackson, The Beach Boys, Daft Punk

silpiet4 karma

I'll represent the 80s...Billy Joel, Prince, Richard Marx for pop. Katy Perry, Pink and Clarkson today. Depeche Mode, New Order and Offspring for Alt, Chesney, Paisley, Keith Urban for Country. Hard to pick one fave Rap artist, I gravitate more towards individual songs in that genre. Jay/Kanye and Macklemore recent faves

BillWerde10 karma

Silvio - they asked for top three artists and you listed 15.

RealJoeLevy7 karma

Yeah, but you're missing the big reveal in that 15, which is that Richard Marx is one of Silvio's top 3 '80s pop artists!

freder85ico5 karma

I used to use the top50 Billboard chart all the time to find new music to download.

Anyway, my question is, how are the chart lists ranked? Is it by sales, air time, requests, etc?

misskatiemo5 karma

Bill just responded to this above - re: Salacious

hang2er3 karma

The business models of print media and the music industry both seem to be under attack by changing technology. How are you adapting to these changes and how can others in both industries learn from what you are doing?

BillWerde5 karma

We think of Billboard as a global music brand, and not as a print magazine. And the diversification we've brought to our business shows this. In the past few years we have, for example, tripled traffic to our music fan site at Billboard.com and relaunched the Billboard Music Awards in partnership with ABC. Each of these ventures on their own are successful new businesses. Billboard has nightclubs and an annual award show in Japan. We have wireless and web applications in South Korea, a magazine and site in Brazil, etc. It's a very exciting time. I'll add: people who work at media companies shouldn't be scared of global trends, and should just focus on the specific opportunities and challenges their own brand faces. I think that's the most important lesson for everyone in business today. In terms of what the world can learn from the music business, i can only tell you what I have learned from watching the struggles of the last 10-12 years. The most important thing is that once technology starts to move, there is no stopping it - there is only shaping it. If there's a wave coming at you, you can orient your business to siphon the current or you can get knocked flat. thankfully, more and more in the music business today have learned to stop worrying and love the bomb.

davidrab2 karma

what technology tools do you use?

misskatiemo2 karma

Bill answered this re: editorial tools a bit earlier

As far as social media goes, it's public knowledge if you know where to look - the two we use most often are SocialFlow and Hootsuite.

ThomasTheDestroyer2 karma

What is your favorite live show that you have ever attended?

Also: Hey, Katie!

misskatiemo2 karma

Hey Thomas! Miss ya!

Ever ever? Bon Jovi when I was about 16. I got pulled up with a group of fellow fans to dance on stage and have always been a huge Bon Jovi fan. No contest.

DaleTremont1 karma

Did most of you think that this would be where you'd end up in your careers? Were you huge music fans growing up and set out for this, or did you just start off as journalists and got lucky?

Bonus Question Best Weird Al song....go!

BillWerde6 karma

and sorry, re Weird Al, gotta go with Eat It. ultimate classic. couldnt watch that video enough back when i was a kid.

RealJoeLevy5 karma

Was a huge music fan growing up who started a popular culture magazine in college with a friend and became a huge journalism fan.

Regarding Weird Al, hoping he will grace us with a Trinidad James parody: "All Mold Everything (f. Mr. Clean)"

misskatiemo3 karma

YES re: Weird Al. It's gotta be done.

BillWerde4 karma

I fell hard for music in college. I was a raver when i graduated, and was lucky that it was right around the time that dance music was supposed to be the next big thing - the last time it was supposed to be the next big thing! CMJ New Music Monthly needed someone who could write in complete sentences about dance music and i fit the bill. But when Napster launched i became as fascinated by how technology was changing the way people experienced music as I was in the music itself. My reporting at that time led me on a path that took me into business, and here.

Gary_Trust3 karma

I'd wanted to work at Billboard since learning, in the late '80s, that "American Top 40" was based on the Hot 100. As cheesy as it sounds, it's still such a thrill to be a part of Billboard and help tell the story of what's popular on the charts and report on trends in the business, including radio (where I worked first). Weird Al-wise, I like his originals best, like "Melanie" - he writes catchy songs :)

misskatiemo3 karma

The group will chime in. I grew up playing music (violin, percussion and then I was a dnb DJ throughout college and after), and always worked in tech marketing.

I actually ended up at Billboard through a former colleague who thought I'd be great for our social media since that's how she knew me and she knew I was a huge music fan/former musician. Serendipity at it's best.

boozerkc1 karma

Do you also feel that Rock music has lost it's balls and it is now just repetitive melodic bullshit that takes no risks?

BillWerde10 karma

I dont think rock music lots its balls at all. However, to use your parlance, i think radio has long needed a bigger set. There's amazing rock music being made and played in clubs all over the US and the world. But most of the best of it has very little in the way of a rock format left at radio to support it. Everything at Top 40 and mainstream radio is very very dance oriented right now. That said, i suspect the pendulum is already swinging the other way. Acts like Mumford & Sons, Lumineers and even Phillip Phillips are bringing guitar sensibilities back to mainstream radio. And i LOVE love love that Alabama Shakes are up for a Best New Artist Grammy this year. I will say, there is some reality to the notion that radio is only playing what radio customers and the masses want to hear. If you go to pull services such as Spotify (as opposed to push platforms like radio) it isn't like Rock is dominating the top of the charts there, though it does do a little better at on-demand services then it seems to do overall at radio.

galenblade1 karma

Hey guys, I'm curious if you have ever given any thought to getting into charts for video games. You guys take a ton of data to make charts weekly, and video games really don't have that level of data and would benefit from that kind of thing. I'd certainly love to get more info about how games are selling.

I know there used to be charts of computer game sales that you guys would compile way back in the 90s or so, any chance of a revival?

BillWerde7 karma

It's something we've considered over the years, but no plans at this point. i think a more logical starting point for us might actually be the music in games. but again, nothing concrete in the works presently. In a related note, i was once a huge fan of the Minibosses and love a good Castlevania II cover.

djxfactor3061 karma

Hi guys! Thanks for doing this AMA.

My question is, who is an artist that most of us probably haven't heard of that you think will be riding the top of your charts by year's end?

Gary_Trust3 karma

An 18-year-old folk/rockabilly singer/songwriter named Jake Bugg just had a No. 1 album in his native U.K. His U.S. debut is due this spring. Triple A (adult alternative) radio is already getting into his first single, "Two Fingers." Also check out our weekly "Bubbling Under" feature in the magazine and online - last year we noted the early buzz on acts like the Lumineers, Cher Lloyd and Trinidad James before they broke mainstream.

Gary_Trust3 karma

Also, Family of the Year's "Hero" is now top 20 at Alternative - so catchy, and great harmonies. Could be a perfect crossover to top 40 and adult radio.

bougieKev1 karma

Why do you rank the top 200 albums and only the top 100 songs (Hot 100)? Why not keep both charts at 100 entries?

BillWerde4 karma

we've actually been discussing a possible flip of those numbers, as we are in this song-focused era. no decision yet, but it's something we're keeping an eye on.

TheMusicDealer1 karma

While it is a very common question asked in the music industry:

What is your take on the success and rapid rise of blogs and the fan-driven artist? By fan driven I mean artists like Macklemore, who without such a strong following and solid relationships built with blogs would not have been able to hit #1 without a major label backing (in fact no label backing at all)...

More importantly, what do you think is the next move for major labels?

BillWerde4 karma

it's important to note that macklemore didnt get to number one with no label. they got to number one with the backing and support of ADA, the Warner Music Group's indie distribution company. In general, though, i think it's awesome that artists like Macklemore, Mac Miller, Psy, etc are able to develop momentum on their own before signing a contract. That was always supposed to be the promise of the democratized web.

sangchus1 karma

With the success of Psy, do you think other Korean or K-pop artists now have the chance to make it in the US music market as well? Among the K-pop artists that you know, who do you think has the best chance or potential to go mainstream in the US?

BillWerde4 karma

i was exposed to K-Pop up close and personally when i wen to Tokyo two years ago for the Billboard Japan Music Awards. I was amazed and impressed by the quality and diversity of artists that I saw. I think what Psy has taught the world is that the right song absolutely can connect in the United States, regardless of language or cultural barriers. It's happened before, though, and will happen again - I suspect with greater frequency.

doctorawho1 karma

What do you guys think of Macklemore?

Did you ever have any "controversies" like ridiculously close ties?

Also: I love your redesign! Was it in-house or did you hire a studio?

BillWerde3 karma

i love Macklemore. Thanks for the redesign compliments. We led the design, and worked with Pentagram for the magazine and Area 17 for the sites.

Slow-Leak1 karma

I manage 2 bands that after a decade have a dedicated cult following. We need to tour 200+ cap venues. Both are on small labels, but I have done all the knuckle work in the press. Both are considered indie darlings. including the Dean of all Rock Critics naming one of them "the best band in America you've haven't heard". Both will have new albums out in 2013 and we'll tour. What advice can you give me to help elevate them to the next level and get them on your radar?

misskatiemo1 karma

Bill's pretty active on Twitter, feel free to Tweet him at @bwerde. Also, have the labels include us in their press outreach, they should certainly have a few contacts. We do run a Twitter-based call for new music, but we ask for unsigned acts to submit... it's called #FlashUnsigned - so check it out (it's not done on a set schedule, and Bill runs it).

nazznomad1 karma

the new layout and paper quality is great

misskatiemo1 karma


estragonsboot1 karma

when you're at home and you have a choice, what medium do you use to listen to music? vinyl, cds, mp3s, etc.?

misskatiemo1 karma

I'm a huge fan of Spotify and SoundCloud - so I mostly listen to things digitally at home. I'm always on the hunt for new music so those services (and digital in general) makes sense for me. My 2nd favorite medium is vinyl though... comes from being a DJ I suppose (and owning a decent amount of it). Mmmm, vinyl.

Xacez1 karma

Do you tend to listen to the music that tops the charts or do you prefer something else?

misskatiemo2 karma

We answered two similar questions already - who are our top 3 artists and are we fans of popular music

Xacez1 karma

Ohh right, my bad.

misskatiemo2 karma

No worries.


Are you fans of "popular music?"

BillWerde2 karma

i love pop, unabashedly. Bieber? Pink? Will.I.Am and Britney, Bitch? Love it all. But i was also a raver in the mid-90s, went to Dead shows in college, loved underground hip-hop when i first moved to NYC in the late 90s, etc. I cant think of any one style of music that i don't have at least a few songs/tracks that I deeply love.

misskatiemo2 karma

We're all fans of different kinds of music. I'm a huge EDM fan and listen to that most often. Others will chime in with their personal favs.

Gary_Trust2 karma

Lots of '80s, '90s pop/rock/country in my iPod. Loved when music was so melody-based ... and glad that it's swung back to that in recent years. Folk singer/songwriter Liz Longley is my favorite new discovery!


Hey, me too! Used to hate electronic music; now I love it! Additionally, what is your opinion on the music that makes it to top spots on the charts?

misskatiemo4 karma

PS - did you catch Flux Pavilion's AMA last night? Loved it.


Unfortunately, no. I tend to miss AMAs because for some reason, they never come up on my front page. I only saw this one because I came to /r/IAMA, haha. So, I take you're a pretty active redditor?

misskatiemo3 karma

I'm pretty active. I have another name that I use for my day-to-day browsing (keeping with Reddit's anonymity is important rule) and this I use less often.

I'm more a lurker and commenter than anything overall but I'm on here at least daily.

misskatiemo3 karma

My personal opinion? Not always my favorite, but it does represent what the general public likes. Obviously the new dance/EDM chart is one of my favs, as that's a lot of the music I listen to. Again, 100% my personal opinion!


Cool! Not really sure what I expected, though, I expect it's dumb of me to think that just because someone works at Billboard, they'd be fans of only pop. Anyway, just wanted to say that you guys are doing a great job at this AMA. Replying to questions in a timely manner and everything!

misskatiemo2 karma

Hey - it's an assumption since we cover the most popular music. There's a wide variety of people that work here though - one's a published author (multiple times) who's a big Springsteen fan, the other has had a No 1 on the Hot 100 chart... we've got a few underground hip-hop fans, music stats people that know literally everything going on re: new releases, etc. We're a varied bunch.

Thanks for the kudos re: the AMA.

[deleted]0 karma


BillWerde2 karma

when we ran a 50th anniversary of the Hot 100 chart and created an all-time Hot 100, Chubby Checker's "Twist" topped it.

kibbe0 karma

Question for Katie - HOW ARE YOU SO AWESOME!?!?!!? HAY GURL HAYYYY!!!!

RealJoeLevy2 karma

Follow up question: HOW IS THAT CAT SO AWESOME???!!!

misskatiemo3 karma

Because he's a boss. That's why.

[deleted]0 karma

2 Questions:

What do you think is the best predictor of a song becoming popular?

What do you think of the new wave of "memetic hits" like Gangnam Style?

BillWerde2 karma

I think "meme" has become just another way of saying "trending." destinations like YouTube have become incredibly important music discovery platforms, so that the songs trending there are crossing over to trend on other platform is no surprise.

freder85ico0 karma

How do you feel about the new direction rock is going with folk rock? i.e. Mumford and Sons, Lumineers, etc

misskatiemo2 karma

This was answered here

djxfactor3060 karma

Can we get tags for the other users who are answering?

Please and thank you.

misskatiemo2 karma

We've asked the mods to add them, and remove limits from other people who are answering - that's why answers are coming a bit slowly.

TooTallTrey0 karma

I love you.

misskatiemo2 karma

We love you too.

kodak_attack0 karma

How long will this EDM hype last? What do you think is the next genre that will dominate the market?

BillWerde4 karma

i believe it will blow out in the next couple of years. i say this as a guy that loves dance music and was once a full-on raver. but the experience of dancing all night to techno isn't for everyone. right now, i think there's a decent chance that a small handful of investors and companies are overpaying for it. when they dont get the return on their multiples, the EDM space will largely collapse back to the underground, where it probably belongs.

[deleted]-1 karma


BillWerde6 karma

we write about the business of music. to ignore the massive success of acts such as Bieber or One Direction would be to drop the ball on our mandate. Because of the revenue these acts generate, they often provide great opportunities to study new innovations in technology, marketing, etc. But we certainly do cover the entire business. We've had covers that range from Ingrid Michaelson to Mac Miller to the Lumineers in my time here.