Top 140: Twitter and Billboard now ranking popular music in real time

Top 40 with a 21st-century twist

Twitter and Billboard have launched a new tool that ranks popular songs being shared on Twitter in real time.

These real-time charts track the songs being discussed and mentioned on the social network in the US, compiling them into lists that are updated "to the minute," Billboard Social/Streaming Charts Manager William Gruger wrote on Billboard.com.

The first chart to launch is the "Trending 140," a play on Billboard's traditional top 40 and Twitter's 140 character limit that tracks the top 140 songs being shared in tweets.

The chart can show either current trending tracks or the most-shared songs over the previous 24 hours, and a weekly summary called the "Billboard Twitter Top Tracks" will be published on Billboard.com and in Billboard magazine.

Off the charts

Meanwhile another chart, the Billboard Twitter Emerging Artists chart, ranks "up-and-coming artists" over 24-hour periods. This chart too will be rounded up weekly online and in print.

Song popularity is tracked using three variables: tweets with links to songs on music services like iTunes, Spotify and Vevo; hashtags like "#nowplaying" and "#np" along with track and artist names; and casual mentions that include words like "music," "song," "track" and "listen."

"These new, interactive charts redefine how fans interact with, and influence, popular content," Gruger wrote.

The charts should have plenty to pull from; according to Gruger, Twitter users sent a full billion tweets about music in 2013, a tenth of which were from music accounts.

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