Big Champagne Redefines The Billboard Chart For Modern Era

Over at, writer Eliot Van Buskirk’s “Inside Big Champagne’s Music Panopticon” provides an in-depth look at Big Champagne’s new dashboard-style music data analysis service. Now anyone who’s been paying attention to digital music news over the past few years should be familiar with the company’s CEO Eric Garland. Dude is the go-to guy when writers need a quote on anything related to music and the internet, which, let’s face it, is practically every day now. There’s also a sizeable chunk of Steve Knopper’s Appetite for Self Destruction dedicated to explaining how Big Champagne came about. Pretty interesting stuff.

To summarize, Big Champagne offers a media tracking service. And through that service, which a company pays a monthly fee for, they’re provided access to data about who’s downloading what songs and videos, and where that activity is happening online. Beyond that, the data gets very specific, in terms of allowing the company to see filesharing data for specific markets.

Data like this is of huge importance because it let’s a company know which band is performing well in which area, rather than having to rely on something like radio charts, a big game of back room handslaps that hasn’t changed in 50 years. Online “buzz” is arguably a bigger indicator of where people’s attention is directed. There are acts with songs on the radio right now, but who have no online buzz, who wouldn’t be able to sell out a local coffee shop.

Big Champagne also provides video charts as well, monitoring big sites like Yahoo and Youtube, as well as smaller ones.

Point being, all this data is coming from many different sources, and it’s being tracked in real time. My question is, just how wide of a net is being cast by this service. According to the article, filesharing networks are included in what’s being tracked. Which ones? And are simple webhosting services like Zshare and Rapidshare being monitored as well. These sites are like filesharing central, the bulk of new music acquisition is taking place there. By the time these songs make it to Yahoo, AOL or any of these big media companies, a lot of the key online traction for a tune has already taken place. Still, a useful service nonetheless. And while a lot of the data their providing is accessible through each separate network (Yahoo, Youtube, etc), having it all in one place, and being able to grasp it in the context of pie charts and graphs is infinitely more valuable. I wish I had 2k a month just to check it out.


Neptunes’ Pharrell Comments On Record Labels, Susan Boyle, Proves That He’s A Genius

June 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Words From The Genius

I was clearly kidding about Pharrell being a genius.

Actually, I find comments like the ones he’s making to be rather questionable. And he knows it, because if you listen to the sound bite, he makes mention of it being easy to question his motives for saying some of these things. He essentially calls record label prehistoric, and comments on Susan Boyle, saying,

They were tryng to change her look, she should have stayed the way she was, cause it’s no longer intersting. Leave her alone; that’s what engaged everybody. She’s talented. Someone should be signing her right now. It would work. The world would want to hear that. The last 12 to 15 years, this whole aesthetic thing has ruined everything. It’s not about how good your hair grows, or like how strong your cheekbones are, or like how much colagen is in your lips, or if you’ve gotten a boob job. What music was, and what it’s going back to, is how talented is this person?

My thing is, you think someone should sign her. Ok, so sign her! You have a label. You have relationships. You have money. Make it happen.

Ok, so maybe it’s not that easy. But still, it kills me when people who are in a position of influence don’t use that influence for the greater good. Maybe Pharrell doesn’t fall into that category completely, because I do think the guy is a proponent of cultural and musical change. The Neptunes definitely shifted the landscape for urban-driven pop music. And a lot of the skater aesthetics, the European and Japanese fashion, and so on, Pharrell was heavily complicit in that movement. That movement is by and large what youth pop culture is right now, at least in the urban space. So I give Pharrell a lot of credit for doing things differently for arguably most of his career.

Musically though, it’s been a few years since The Neptunes have really gotten behind any talent. Which is what he’s talking about. He’s saying, the aesthetic is over. It’s about how well you can hit this or that note. I agree. It is about talent right now. Because the filters and the companies that owned them, have either totally crumbled to the ground, or been leveraged by other forms of media, replaced by other filters, and just people in general. Those social networks that Pharrell talks about, he’s right, they have found ways to get eyeballs on new forms of music. That said, they’ve also gotten eyes on people like Tila Tequila too. So the aesthetic is not completely gone from people’s consciousness. The “show” part of show business still factors in. Just maybe not as much.

What’s so crazy to me is, I think if Susan Boyle was a hot broad with big tits, blonde hair, and a coke bottle shape, and she sang the same exact song the same exact way, she might not have gotten nearly as much attention. It would just fly under the radar as some other hot chick with a dope voice.

So the aesthetic factor, or lack thereof, works both ways.