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Billboard, Mediabase and David Archuleta: The Definitions

by soundscene

For the past two and a half months a lot of us have gotten a new hobby–chartwatching. It’s probably the first time many of David’s fans had ever bothered to look at a Billboard chart or a radio playlist. And, as many of us can attest, it can be very frustrating following these charts, especially if you’re not entirely sure what they all are. So that’s where this little (little?) essay comes in. I’m going to publish a bit at a time so this post isn’t really large. This post is all about the definitions…

The Definitions

  • Billboard: Billboard Magazine is a well-respected music publication that has been around for decades. Along with publishing articles about the music industry every week, it also publishes the complete radio and sales charts for songs and albums released in the United States and several other countries. David has said that he loved looking at Billboard charts to see what songs were popular overseas, and the entire back section of each issue is devoted to just that. Nowadays charts are also posted on and the subscription-based website,
  • Mediabase: Mediabase tracks radio airplay of songs on many different formats of radio stations, including Contemporary Hit Radio/Pop (also called CHR/Pop or Top 40 Radio), Hot Adult Contemporary (Hot AC), Adult Contemporary (AC), Rhythmic, Urban, Country, and more. Mediabase only monitors certain radio stations in each format and counts how many times those stations play each song. Based on these results, daily and weekly charts are tabulated and published on websites like All Access. David’s songs are (and likely will be in the future) released to CHR/Pop, Hot AC and AC formats. Although it’s easiest for us to track radio airplay on Mediabase, Billboard does not use Mediabase to calculate radio airplay for its charts. It instead uses a different airplay monitoring company called BDS, which is run by Neilson (the same people that tabulate television ratings each week).
  • CHR/Pop: This radio format is your typical top 40 radio station. They play current artists in pop, R&B, rock and sometimes rap.
  • Hot AC: Think of Hot AC radio stations as Top 40-lite. They usually don’t play any rap or heavy rock songs. They often play older songs as well as current songs. Hot AC stations tend to play more rock than CHR/Pop stations, but none of what they play will be too heavy or hard.
  • AC: AC stations are typically “the best of the 80s, 90s and Now.” They will play a select number of current songs, usually just three or four times a day at the most, and several older songs as well. Songs on AC tend to be much lighter. Some AC stations call themselves “soft rock,” although they will play pop and R&B as well.
  • Spins: A spin is a single play of a song, like “Crush,” on a radio station.
  • Rolling Airplay Chart: Mediabase publishes a rolling chart every day. A rolling chart shows the total spins a song receives on all monitored radio stations in a particular format over the last 7 days. For example, on a Monday, Mediabase will publish the CHR/Pop rolling chart that shows the total number of spins for each song between the previous Monday to the following Sunday. On Tuesday, the chart will show the total number of spins from the previous Tuesday to the following Monday.
  • Weekly Airplay Chart: Mediabase and Billboard both publish weekly airplay charts based only on a song’s weekly spins. These airplay charts run from Monday to Sunday. The rolling airplay chart from Sunday on Mediabase essentially “freezes” and becomes that week’s weekly airplay chart. Billboard’s weekly airplay charts (based on spins) are the Mainstream Top 40 (CHR/Pop), Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks (Hot AC), and Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks (AC). Mediabase and Billboard monitor a slightly different set of radio stations, so their charts don’t always match up.
  • Bullet: I find one of the most common questions is “what is a bullet?” A bullet actually has more than one meaning, depending on what chart you’re looking at. On Mediabase rolling and weekly airplay charts, you’ll see several sets of numbers, one of which is the song’s bullet. For example, if you look at the CHR/Pop Rolling Chart, you might see something like this for “Crush”
    14 12 DAVID ARCHULETA Crush 4758 4514 244 26.079
    The bolded “244” is Crush’s current bullet (for that day). The first number after “Crush” (4758) is the song’s total number of spins in the last 7 days. The number after that (4514) is the total number of spins the song received the 7 days before that (the prior week). Take 4758 and subtract 4514 and you get 244, the difference in the number of spins between this week and last week. It basically measures how fast a song is moving from week to week, and whether the song is moving up or moving down (a negative bullet would mean it’s moving down).
    Billboard has a different definition of bullet, although it represents somewhat of the same idea. When a song is bulleted on a particular chart that means there was an increase in whatever that chart is measuring (if it’s sales, then there was an increase in sales; if it’s airplay then there was an increase in airplay). Confusingly, the weekly airplay charts for Billboard (as explained above) also have bullets like the Mediabase bullets.
  • Audience Impression: Audience Impression, or AI, is an estimate of the number of people that hear a particular song in a given daily or weekly period. Taking the Mediabase example above, the number 26.079 is the AI. This represents 26,079,000 people. Mediabase is estimating that 26 million people heard “Crush” during the last 7 days. AI can vary based on the number of spins a song receives each week and where those spins happen. For example, Z100, the #1 radio station in the country, has a much higher AI than KQMQ, the radio station in my hometown. That’s because more people live in the area that Z100 reaches. So a spin on Z100 counts for more AI than a spin on my radio station. Why does this matter? Because Billboard not only has charts based on a song’s total number of spins in a given week, but it also has separate charts based solely on AI. The main chart based on AI is the Hot 100 Airplay Chart. Why does Billboard have separate charts for spins and AI? Who knows… it just does. Speaking of which…
  • Hot 100 Airplay Chart: As mentioned, this is Billboard’s biggie AI airplay chart. It measures the AI airplay of songs from all formats–rock, rap, urban, rhythmic, CHR/Pop, AC, Hot AC. It’s much harder for a song to climb the Hot 100 Airplay Chart simply because there are so many songs being played on the radio. Billboard also has other AI airplay charts, such as the Pop 100 Airplay chart, on which David’s songs also chart.
  • Hot 100: The Hot 100 is the biggest chart of them all for songs. It’s a Billboard chart that measures both a song’s sales and its AI airplay. Basically, Billboard takes a song’s sales for the week, adds in its AI airplay from the Hot 100 Airplay Chart, throws in a dash of online streaming, and calculates where each song falls on the list. The result is a measure of how all songs are doing in general. The math isn’t too important (I’ll probably go into that in another post), but suffice to say that “Crush”‘s #2 debut on the Hot 100 was an event simply because it’s so difficult for songs to even make the top 10 on the Hot 100. There’s also format charts like the Pop 100, on which David’s songs will also chart.

I think that’s a pretty good start. I’ll go into more detail about day-to-day tracking soon. As I mentioned, that can be a frustrating hobby–especially for a debut song by a debut artist. But it can also be pretty fun. See you next time. 🙂


David Archuleta’s Crush on Billboard Charts Week Ending 12/06/2008
Billboard update by: Orlando  
  • Billboards Hot 100 – #23
  • Hot 100 Airplay – #42
  • Pop 100 – #21
  • Pop 100 Airplay – #20
  • Hot Digital Tracks – #18
  • Hot Digital Songs – #19
  • Hot Contemporary Tracks – #11
  • Mainstream Top 40 – #21
  • Hot Adult Top 40 – #15
  • Hot Canadian Digital Songs – #31
  • Canadian Hot 100 – #21
  • Hot Ringmaster – (not listed)
  • Crush Sales: 1,037,502  (Platinum Status)
  • Billboard 200 (SECOND WEEK) – #11

Source: Billboard Charts



  1. GREAT post, Lisa! Thank you!! 😀


  2. Very informative and to the point


  3. […] information titled, “Billboard, Mediabase and David Archuleta: The Definitions” on her SOUNDSCENE Page. Please take a moment to welcome both Amy and Lisa to Fan […]

  4. A friend told me about this site today and it looks great. I have read “Snarky” and love it! So it will be great to have Amy contribute. And Soundscene Lisa..Wow! Excellent information. Really helps the fans understand how all this works and why we need to keep up the support for David.

  5. Thank you so much for this, Lisa! Very useful information to have handy for reference.

  6. Hi Lisa…I’ve never seen this site before…of course…I’m a little slow…but nice job…I hope you’re doing great and I still think of the fond memories sitting up front with you watching Big “D”…they sure are busy these days…I chatted with Jeff yesterday and today and I can’t keep up with eveything that have going on…crazy! Again…nice article…You’re awesome!!!

  7. Thanks Lisa for the great synopsis of how all of this works and how we can help best promote David and his music. All of this can be quite confusing. I have really appreciated all of your postings on the music and charts and I want to thank you for what you have done for me.
    Howdy to Brett and to my friend Judith!

  8. This is fantastic, Lisa!! Thank you for putting this together! It’s been sorely needed!

  9. Thank you so much Lisa. This really helps us be less confused, really do appreciate this.

  10. Wow, thanks so much. This just gives us deeper insight on how everything works and the right way to support David. Thanks, Lisa!

  11. Thanks Lisa!Maric here!Just wanna let you know I’m still a fan and a lurker at IDF.I’m so excited about David’s album.It will be the first album I will buy after more than 10 years.LOL.
    Nice informative site!

  12. Fan Sceno Editor:
    I have an adice that can you change background from black to white, and fond. when we read and feel not good.
    Holiday is coming. so chance the black to white .

  13. Thank you for all the descriptions soundscene. I always enjoy reading your information.

  14. Thanks for the Chart updates Orlando

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