'Harlem Shake' Breaks Barrier: YouTube Plays Now Count In Billboard Hot 100 Chart Formula

With such massively successful YouTube music videos as "Gangnam Style" and the recent "Harlem Shake," which hit the 175 million viewer mark on Friday, Feb. 15, Billboard magazine will now include plays on the online video network in its industry standard charting, as of this week.

Billboard's 55-year-old Hot 100 charting system will report Bauer's "Harlem Shake" in the much-vaunted No. 1 spot for the week ending on March 2, 2013, with the song also earning the top spot on Billboard's Streaming Songs list.

Up to and including the forthcoming chart, Billboard Magazine has listed a total of 1,023 number-one hits, starting with proto-pop-star Ricky Nelson's "Poor Little Fool" on Aug. 4, 1958.

Until this latest technological update, Billboard's Hot 100 was based solely on radio play and sales. The decision to include "Harlem Shake" for its YouTube plays marks Billboard's first major departure from its time-honored formula of charting top hits.

Bauer's hip-hop-ish "Harlem Shake" was hardly noticed when it was released as a free download in May 2012. But a meme craze based on the song that involved everyone from office workers to army soldiers swept the Web throughout February 2013 and created an iconic pop hit that has now led Billboard to name the song its No. 1 hit.

"The notion that a song has to sell in order to be a hit feels a little two or three years ago to me," said Billboard Magazine Editorial Director Bill Werde, as reported by the New York Times. "The music business today — much to its credit — has started to learn that there are lots of different ways a song can be a hit, and lots of different ways that the business can benefit from it being a hit."

Werde also revealed that though Billboard magazine had been in discussions with YouTube for as long as two years about the transition to including such video plays into its chart formula, it took "Harlem Shake" to move the publication quickly forward with the plan.

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