Early Warning


In an industry that spends hundreds of millions of dollars to identify a hit record, one thing is missing:

A chart that reflects reality.

Since Billboard’s first chart a thousand years ago, there hasn’t been a definitive chart based on parameters that the record industry and radio stations deemed important.

For 20 years, our industry found itself dependent upon R&R and a chart methodology that defied description.  In some cases, it still does.  R&R adds and subtracts stations from its list of reporters on nothing more than a whim.  Has anyone ever seen R&R’s criteria?  It only exists in the minds of those who decide what stations should be included or excluded.  Stations in tourist locales seem to be added because people working for R&R visit.  It’s a bad habit, but some still look at R&R to determine what stations really matter.

Has everyone gone mad?

To contend that R&R is responsive to the needs of the radio and record industries is a joke.  R&R is, has and always will be concerned only with what’s best for R&R…nothing more or less.

R&R does what R&R wants.  R&R doesn’t ask those in promotion or programming for input. Doesn’t it seem reasonable that the people who depend most on an accurate chart…those in promotion and programming..should be involved in the determination of what makes up the chart?

Evidently, not R&R.

But please, lest anyone believe I’m just picking on R&R, let’s talk about the people who run the Monitor.  What they’ve done with the Top 40,  Crossover and Urban charts in the past few months could be used as the definition of “oxymoron.”  Suffice it to say that it ain’t right.

Monitor is as bad as R&R when it comes to the panel.  If a station is monitored, it becomes a part of the panel.  But who determines what stations are monitored?

I give up.

We have stations in the Monitor panel that are responsible for selling maybe four copies of any song each year.  Others, that are in markets that sell thousands, aren’t included.

So record companies and programmers are at the mercy of two charts that do not seek input from the very industries they leech upon.

How can we stop the madness?

Glad you asked.  Network 40 will debut two new definitive charts on December 4…our Christmas present to you.

The Network 40 Impact chart will be comprised of the playlists of all monitored stations, plus those stations that have an “impact” on sales.  Inclusion will be based on market size and market share.  The decisions of what stations to include will be made by a Network 40 Advisory Panel.  This advisory panel will include 10 programmers, 10 heads  of promotion, two consultants and two independent record promoters.  For the first time in the history of our business, there will be a chart comprised of data from radio stations deemed important by the industry…not a trade magazine.

Who woulda thunk it?

Our aim is to get a correct representative sample of radio stations…stations the industry considers important…to compile a chart that is an accurate sample of what’s really going on.  This chart will take the best of both worlds…stations that are monitored combined with stations that impact sales.  It will be accurate because the industry will dictate its accuracy.

Want to know the criteria?  Here it is in black and white:  market size and ratings.  Want to  know the people who make the final decisions on what stations should be included?  We’ll publish the list of your peers who will comprise the Network 40 Advisory Panel.  How will those on the committee be selected?  By you…our reporters.

Forgive me, but this is so simple.  Why hasn’t it been done before?

A big concern for the record industry is that most records break out of major markets.  This makes stations in smaller markets unimportant when it comes to promotions and promotional dollars.  Network 40 wants to change this trend.


By spotlighting stations in smaller markets that are aggressively programmed, we can make these stations and programmers more important to the industry at large.  Our goal is to prove that records can break out of smaller markets.  If the industry begins watching these “indicator” stations and sees a positive pattern, a more accurate appraisal of a record’s potential can be determined.

These “indicator” stations will be featured in an Early Warning Chart that will be tabulated and faxed to the industry each week on Monday night.  Programmers can see what records are working well on these smaller, aggressively programmed stations.  They’ll will be able to make better educated decisions on music day.  At the same time, record companies can look to the smaller markets to determine if new records have hit potential and make make promotional dollar decisions accordingly.

If the industry works together, we can make these new charts the definition of accuracy.  We all know that monitored airplay is a staple.  We also know that some stations that aren’t being monitored deserve recognition.  These new charts take care of that.  Programmers and promotion people will provide input into a system that reflects their reality…not a trade magazine.

Input and reality.  Isn’t that what it’s all about?

For the first time in history, Network 40 offers a chart system that you, the people in our industry, design and define.

Are you ready?

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