To what extent does success at pop radio align with success on the sales and streaming charts?
As part of an ongoing feature, Headline Planet has attempted to answer that question. The feature assesses how the Top 10 songs at US pop radio are performing on the US iTunes sales and US Spotify streaming listings.
Welcome to the latest edition of this breakdown!
There will always be some degree of connection between the three charts. Songs that receive considerable mainstream airplay obviously have a better chance of driving sales and streams. Radio programmers may, moreover, look to sales and streaming numbers when choosing which songs to play.
There is no guarantee of significant overlap between the charts, however.
For starters, certain artists from certain genres tend to perform disproportionately well on iTunes and Spotify. If those genres do not align with what pop radio programmers believe will resonate on their stations, there will be a disconnect between the charts.
It is important to note that factors like television syncs, prominent playlist positioning and discounts may provide boosts on the sales and streaming fronts. It is unclear how radio programmers will weigh these factors when analyzing a song’s viability. Do they simply look at the raw chart position? Or do they “discount” the impact of playlists, discounts and other special circumstances?
Additional factors like radio callout data (surveys of listeners) and label promotional efforts (pop radio is not a strategic priority in all cases) may further create disconnects between the charts.
Still, it is fascinating to see what connection does exist.
The rankings below are based on the building Mediabase pop chart for the March 10-16 tracking period, the real-time US iTunes chart, and the daily US Spotify chart for March 15.
The breakdown makes specific note of songs that are declining at pop radio. These songs have “peaked” and should thus be held to a lower standard for sales and streaming.
Top 10 at pop radio:
1) Ariana Grande – 7 rings
#8 iTunes, #3 Spotify
2) Halsey – Without Me (declining)
#10 iTunes, #22 Spotify
3) Benny Blanco, Halsey & Khalid – Eastside (declining)
#19 iTunes, #39 Spotify
4) Ellie Goulding & Diplo – Close To Me ft. Swae Lee
#71 iTunes, #105 Spotify
5) Ariana Grande – thank u, next (declining)
#63 iTunes, #21 Spotify
6) Panic! At The Disco – High Hopes (declining)
#13 iTunes, #59 Spotify
7) Post Malone & Swae Lee – Sunflower (declining)
#3 iTunes, #4 Spotify
8) Khalid – Better
#21 iTunes, #38 Spotify
9) Ava Max – Sweet But Psycho
#5 iTunes, #77 Spotify
10) Sam Smith & Normani – Dancing With A Stranger
#9 iTunes, #32 Spotify
Top 10 iTunes performers that are not in the Top 10 at radio:
1) Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – Shallow (had fallen off the pop radio chart; is back in the Top 30 thanks to a resurgence of interest in the song)
2) Jonas Brothers – Sucker (fairly new song that is already trending Top 15 at pop radio; it is a virtual lock to reach the Top 10 in the coming weeks)
4) Post Malone – Wow. (still rising at pop radio; should reach #11 this week)
6) Iggy Azalea – Sally Walker (brand new song; the radio campaign has not yet started, and rhythmic will likely be the focus when it does)
7) Lauren Daigle – You Say (will enter the Top 20 at pop radio this week; a crossover single that has already achieved massive success at the Christian AC and Hot AC formats)
Top 10 Spotify performers that are not in the Top 10 at radio:
1) J. Cole – MIDDLE CHILD (not being promoted to pop radio; is in the Top 10 at rhythmic and urban)
2) Jonas Brothers – Sucker (see above)
5) YNW Melly – Murder On My Mind (not being promoted to pop radio)
6) Post Malone – Wow. (see above)
7) Juice WRLD – Robbery (not being promoted to pop radio)
8) Ariana Grande – break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored (still rising at pop radio; should reach #12 this week)
9) Meek Mill – Going Bad ft. Drake (not being promoted to pop radio; a #1 hit at rhythmic and urban)
10) ScHoolboy Q – Numb Numb Juice (new song; not being promoted to pop radio)