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Billboard is a weekly American magazine devoted to the music industry. It is often considered to be one of the 'holy grails' of the entertainment industry, and the official trade publication of the music industry; it is typically regarded as one of the most relevant and unbiased sources of information on the music industry, as opposed to others that can have a significant bias. It maintains several internationally recognized music charts that track the most popular songs and albums in various categories on a weekly basis. Among the two most important charts, the Billboard Hot 100 ranks the top 100 songs regardless of genre and is frequently used as the standard measure for ranking songs in the United States, while the Billboard 200 survey is the corresponding chart for album sales.


When founded in Cincinnatimarker in 1894, Billboard Advertising magazine was a trade paper for the bill posting industry, hence the magazine's name. Within a few years of its founding, it began to carry news of outdoor amusements, a major consumer of billboard space. Eventually Billboard became the paper of record for circuses, carnivals, amusement parks, fairs, vaudeville, minstrels, whale shows and other live entertainment. The magazine began coverage of motion pictures in 1909 and of radio in the 1920s.

Image:Billboard01_FirstIssue.jpg|First IssueImage:Billboard03_1896.jpg‎|Christmas, 1896Image:Billboard02_10thAnniv.jpg‎|10th Anniversary Issue

It was the development of the juke box industry during the 1930s which led The Billboard to begin publishing the music charts for which it ultimately became famous. This also began the process which would lead the magazine to gradually cede coverage of other parts of the entertainment industry to such publications as Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. In the 1950s it introduced a section covering the television industry, including ratings charts for programs. It continued to carry news of fairs, carnivals, theme parks and other outdoor entertainments until 1961 when these departments were transferred to a new weekly magazine called Amusement Business. By this time television coverage had also been transferred to another publication.

From 1961 until 2005, Billboard was devoted entirely to the music industry. In 2005, the magazine and its web sites were repositioned to provide coverage of all forms of digital and mobile entertainment. Amusement Business prospered for a few decades, but was struggling by the beginning of the new century. Shortly after that its frequency of publication was reduced to monthly, and it finally ceased publication altogether following its May, 2006 issue.

Billboard charts

On January 4, 1936 The Billboard published its first music hit parade, and on July 20, 1940 the first Music Popularity Chart was calculated. Since 1958 the Hot 100 has been published, combining single sales and radio airplay.

Billboard currently puts out over 100 charts each week, the most popular ones being Hot 100, Billboard 200, and Hot 100 Airplay.

Radio countdown programs

For many years, the weekly syndicated radio program American Top 40, hosted by Casey Kasem (July 4, 1970 to August 6, 1988), and Shadoe Stevens (August 13, 1988 to January 28, 1995), played the top 40 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in reverse order; in late November 1991, it switched to using the top 40 portion of the Hot 100 Airplay chart. Later, in early 1993, it began using the Top 40 Mainstream chart until it temporarily went off the air in 1995. When the show returned in 1998, it no longer used Billboard charts as its source.

A country music version of American Top 40, called American Country Countdown, has been on the air since October 1973. The show is hosted each week by Kix Brooks of the country duo Brooks & Dunn, who replaced radio legend Bob Kingsley in January 2006. American Country Countdown used the top 40 songs of the Hot Country Songs chart until August 2009.

Billboard today

Billboard magazine covers every aspect of the music business, from radio and television to CD, DVD and video cassette sales and internet music downloads. It features charts, news stories, features and opinion articles. For the most part, Billboard is intended for music professionals, such as record label executives and DJs. It is generally considered a business-to-business magazine, for music industry professionals, though it can be found at many bookstores. The magazine extensively covers the entertainment business, but Billboard remains best known for its charts. The editorial coverage and broader strategy is guided by its editorial director, Bill Werde.

Much of the magazine, in addition to up-to-the-minute coverage, is available at Billboard's B2B site, is the consumer-centered site, and includes artist interviews, daily news and, of course, charts. also features video programming, including artist interviews, performances and event coverage. For instance, Billboard has red carpet footage from the 2009 Grammy Awards and intimate interviews with acts like Keyshia Cole, Adele and 30 Seconds to Mars.

Billboard Books

The group behind the magazine has an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group (itself a part of Random House) known as Billboard Books. Their publishing agency describes itself as "a leading publisher of music and entertainment titles".

Corporate ownership

As of 2007, Billboard is owned by the Dutchmarker conglomerate The Nielsen Company.


The New Hampshire Lottery has a Billboard scratch ticket.

See also



Further reading

  • Durkee, Rob. American Top 40: The Countdown of the Century. Schriner Books, New York Citymarker, 1999.
  • Battistini, Pete, American Top 40 with Casey Kasem The 1970s., January 31, 2005. ISBN 1-4184-1070-5.

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