Does the Billboard Global 200 truly reflect the global streams or is it another neocolonialist agenda?

Credit: Barcroft Media/Getty Images

When Billboard announced that they would be launching two new weekly global charts, many Armys and other fandoms were excited because it places international artists at an advantage or does it really? It doesn’t really make sense to identify worldwide streams but use solely Western music platforms because it’s not representative. It’s almost laughable, I can’t recognise the legitimacy of such a ‘global’ chart that explicitly excludes domestic platforms. Since when does a US company determine what is ‘global’ or not?

On the historic announcement of the Billboard Global 200, BTS’s latest single Dynamite, was placed at number 2 on the charts. Now, Dynamite has been top 2 for 4 weeks consistently on the Billboard Hot 100 — gaining the number 1 position twice in a row and the second position twice in a row. Currently, it is number 1 on the Billboard Global 200. This is nothing new though. Dynamite is the most downloaded single ever on the Billboard Global 200 singles chart! As great as this is for BTS and Armys, it appears that the Billboard’s version of ‘global charts’ is a Westernised view of what global means.

To be frank, the new ‘global’ chart will just make it look as if Western artists are being streamed around the world, when this is not really the case in reality. Obviously, it would be difficult and probably tiring for Billboard to gain accurate data around domestic streaming services on a weekly basis across the world, but surely Billboard have the capabilities to work with the leading streaming services in their respective countries if they want to market this as a global chart. Global charts, but US based platforms?

Credit: Getty Images

“We want to present an extension of the Hot 100 on a global scale”, according to Silbio Pietroluongo, who works on the Billboard’s charts business. Yet, this is confusing because of the lack of local streaming services included and does not explicitly outline the countries that are included in the charts but just the platforms. There is an overwhelming lack of transparency about the chart and consumers need to be aware of the logistics behind an accurate global chart and should actually use numbers from all leading platforms of different countries and regions.

By focusing exclusively on streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music, this does not do anything. Arguably, it just forces fans to migrate towards Spotify, Apple Music and Youtube in order to better on the charts. It also seems that Billboard may be trying to help legitimise Apple Music and Spotify in markets where they are not dominant. Coloniser vibes. If local services were reflected including streams and sales in domestic platforms, Latin American artists, Indian artists and BTS would dominate these charts on a consistent basis.

It just represents the limited nature of the music business, from the time you have legendary artists like BTS calling themselves ‘aliens’ in the American music industry — I cannot say I am not surprised with the Billboard Global 200.

Japan is the second largest music market in the world and there’s barely any Western artists topping their charts. Japan’s Billboard Hot 100 is dominated by Japanese and other Asian artists. If we are also being honest, most of the top Western artists are not that significant outside the West because listeners are more likely to consume their own musicians (unless you are truly global like BTS). Moreover, Line is the most dominant streaming app in Japan but is not included in the chart data.

Asia is the world’s largest continent, accounting for over 50% of the world’s population, so when they use the term ‘global’, we need to scrutinise what this really means — platforms such as South Korea’s Melon attract over 28 million users, India’s Gaana which attracts 150 million monthly viewers, or the Arab world’s Anghami with 55 million users or Boomplay in Africa with over 75million users. Spotify is only available in 5 out of 54 African countries: South Africa, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Egypt. If the Billboard does not include domestic streaming apps, it is pointless because it tries to propagate that only music from the US is global.

Local streaming services and platforms have been around for much longer than Spotify or Apple Music. The services highlight local music and are also cheaper for those living in their respective countries. There are clear reasons as to why these platforms are much more preferred. Furthermore, I believe that the numbers from platforms like Spotify in other countries are skewed because of Westerners living in those countries, therefore failing to accurately measure and represent the country’s music consumption.

So, what is the point? The Billboard Global 200 is not a true reflection of what artists or songs are the biggest on a ‘global’ scale, if it fails to accurately measure all music consumption, including domestic services.

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