Singing News to launch Weekly Top 40 chart in January

Singing News announced this morning that, come January 2012, they will be launching a weekly spin-based Top 40 radio airplay chart. (UPDATE, 11:56 AM: Danny Jones confirms that this will be in addition to the monthly chart.)

While I’m open to hearing cases to the contrary, my initial reaction is that, on the whole, this is a great thing for our genre. First, it will be entirely spin-based, eliminating the possibility of radio stations handing in a chart that does not reflect actual airplay.

Second, other genres, like Contemporary Christian Music, moved from a monthly chart to a weekly chart decades ago, and there is a sense in which this is what the music industry expects to see in a professional genre.

Third, since this will be based on actual spins, there will undoubtedly be far less time between a chart’s appearance and the charting period the chart represents. As we all know, due to print deadlines, Singing News posts the November chart a full month early, October 1, and even then, it’s reflecting a charting period several weeks before that. Under this new system, the time a song peaks on the charts will likely be far closer to the time it peaks in actual radio airplay.

Fourth, and most important: For better or for worse, this increased fluidity will likely allow songs to move up and down the chart faster. There is a down-side, in that there are occasional songs which deserve to be on the charts even longer than they are now. But, by and large, this will be a very good thing, and here’s why: When groups are selecting songs for an album, they know that they will only be able to send two or three (or, on rare occasion, four) songs to radio. So, right now, before a group heads into the studio, they have to find at least three songs which they are confident are good enough to go to radio. Just imagine what it could do for album quality if groups had to make sure they had six single-worthy songs before heading into the studio!

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14 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. The weekly chart is neither here nor there to me. Songs on Southern Gospel radio don’t move up and down the chart rapidly, and a song isn’t a “number one” in my book unless it has staying power. We have had weekly charts for several years that prove this.

    The greater part of this story is that Singing News has backed down on their deadline to require all reports to be spin based by January 2012. They do plan to implement that requirement at a later date, but once again, it’s a reflection of just how fundamentally inferior Southern Gospel radio continues to be.

    They can count spins using iTunes…or barring that…they can count spins on paper. There is no excuse, but Singing News felt that economic times are bad enough at the moment not to force the issue. I think they should have gone ahead and eliminated those stations.

    A program director who can’t manage to prepare a list of songs in rotation, keep track of plays, and do the very simple math required to comply with spin-based reporting isn’t capable of submitting an accurate guess as to what was played either.

    That should have changed ten years ago when some of us first started talking about this issue.

    • We haven’t had any weekly charts produced by the industry-leader – any weekly charts with Singing News’ prestige and history to back them up.

      • True. I’m just saying that on the weekly charts we have seen, the songs tend to move up and down at about the same rate as the monthly chart.

        For example, at Absolutely Gospel right now, “Saved By Grace” by Triumphant is number one. It took 14 weeks to get there which translates to 3 months.

        On a Top 80, a song might take even more months to reach number one, but we have to keep in mind that it’s a chart with 80 positions, meaning a song can appear on the chart sooner than one might appear on a 40 position chart.

        So all things considered, the songs move at the same rate. I’d LIKE to see more songs getting played, but I don’t expect that to be the case. I’ll be surprised if radio starts moving songs up and down the charts any faster just because the industry leader started a weekly chart.

      • But here’s the thing: On any AbsolutelyGospel charting stations that are also SN charting stations, the pace at which a single climbs and falls is set by the slower pace of the SN monthly chart.

  2. When I say “backed down,” I’m referring to the monthly Top 80, by the way.

    The monthly Top 80 will continue to be based on reports from stations that report actual spins as well as some who say they aren’t able to comply with that requirement.

    The new weekly Top 40 chart will be entirely spin based.

    Because the stations being sampled will be different, this could actually cause some contradictions between the charts.

    When a song sits at number one all four weeks in a month, but another song is number one on the Top 80 for that month, it will be due to those non-spin reporting stations swinging the vote in favor of a different song.

    • That will be particularly interesting to watch!

  3. i like the idea…change it up a little. No harm either way, just something new.

  4. Is the SN Top 80 chart still relevant? Why are the few SG formated stations, that are left, always in need of “fixing?” As in all formats, some stations are bad but they usually reflect their market/community. SG will never resemble secular music, neither should it. What is considered SG in one market will not fly everywere. The genre is too diverse. It ranges from bluegrass to what some consider contemporary and praise and worship. It is a religious music after all. If you think you can make a one size fits all, cookie cutter radio format and universal play list then there could be less church denomonations and styles of worship.

  5. If the chart does not reflect actual spins now, then what has it been reflecting?

    • It has been reflecting reported spins, which sometimes are based on actual airplay, and sometimes on what the reporting individual for a station thinks has been played the most.

  6. right…

  7. Wonder what new ways will be used for verification?

    • That’s just it. There is still a person that sets the rotation. How does that make it more “fair?”

  8. I think this is very good. I had always wondered why the chart was a monthly thing anyway.
    Also, I was unaware of the issue with the November chart. Does this mean November airplay really is not reported?