In Defense of Ultimate Chart – It’s More than Hype
After comparing the hype surrounding Ultimate Chart with the result, Richard MacManus, the Founder and Editor of Read Write Web, felt underwhelmed. Numerous publications and music industry thinkers, including myself, proclaimed Ultimate Chart to be nothing short of a game changer and a Godsend. So why, after all this publicity and enthusiasm, does Ultimate Chart look vaguely similar to Billboard's rankings?
That's what MacManus wants to know. Well, because they're not supposed to look THAT different. Overtime, some of the artists that Ultimate Chart displays will be dissimilar from Billboard because Ultimate Chart tracks a much greater breath of influence in comparison to Billboard. The difference between the two charts will be revealed as more artists that aren't huge album movers climb Ultimate Chart to higher rankings than they would've received on Billboard.
Now, for the question of whether or not the hype surrounding Ultimate Chart is justified. The information that MacManus misses is the fact that Eric Garland, CEO and co-founder of Big Champagne, the company behind Ultimate Chart, has bigger plans in mind. As I write this, Garland is working on all types of charts, varying from independent, DIY, and genre charts – as well as charts that I don't think I'm even allowed to write about yet. The vision that Garland has for Ultimate Chart isn't to start a debate between Billboard and his company on whether or not Katy Perry or Eminem should have the top chart spot or not. That's not his battle.
No, Garland wants to chart the things and artists that haven't been charted yet.
That's why those of us a little closer to the music industry noise made such a commotion when Ultimate Chart was released back in July. I, along with Garland, were all well aware of the criticisms that would roll in once everyone saw that Ultimate Chart was full of superstars like every other chart. It's why Hypebot doesn't run weekly Ultimate Charts because a) we know that there would be blowback and b) because we're getting our own personal Ultimate Charts.
What Garland strives to do, and what I tried to capture in my Ultimate Chart exclusive piece, is recognize the efforts of artists that don't make the charts.
Artists that, by all other metrics are killing it right now, but aren't selling hundreds of thousands or millions of records. It's an effort to give hard-working artists the credit they've deserved for years – a chart to point to and say that they're on it.
This is why, when briefed about Ultimate Chart, I gave a rather breathless review of how spectator it would be. Not because I thought it would more accurate then Billboard, but because the Ultimate Charts that Garland imagines creating won't have Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber on them. Honestly, as I'm sure Garland would secretly agree, those popularity charts are just smoke screens designed to give the mass media something to care about. It makes the idea tangible to them.
If instead, Garland had just been talking about creating neat DIY and indie charts, there's a good chance that the New York Times wouldn't have profiled him. Had Garland not challenged Billboard, as well as, how success is measured in the music industry, he had no breaking story. But, because he did, that breaking story allowed Garland to create the charts that he really wanted to create and wet the appetite of the mass media machine for when he's ready to unveil the others.
Have I consumed a kids swimming pool worth of Garland's Kool-Aid? Maybe.
But, I stand by my initial reaction. There's good reason for the hype surrounding Ultimate Chart, but if you're skeptical like MacManus and only compare Ultimate Chart to Billboard, it's easy to come to the conclusion, like he did, that it's hype.
However, we expect new charts from Garland in the near future. They will be the game changers. These will be the Ultimate Charts that do live up to all the hype.
Note: Well, I feel a bit silly, as MacManus's piece showed up in my Google Alerts and I treated it as a new piece. It's not. It's from August, I've been informed.
I hope you enjoy the piece nonetheless!