Acknowledging the ever-increasing number of unsigned, independent artists, Billboard unveiled a new top-50 weekly chart on January 20 that aims to shine light on lesser-known artists and buoy careers.
Launched on Billboard.com, Billboard Uncharted is an evolution of last year's Dreamseekers launch, a subscription program (costing around $100/€73 a year) for unsigned artists allowing them to upload their music to the web and track their exposure on a range of outlets, including Twitter, blogs, and radio. Billboard applied those metrics to create a Dreamseekers chart, listing the top bands.
The new Uncharted ranks popularity based on a formula of online exposure incorporating streamed plays, page views, and fans according to MySpace Music as well as sources tracked by online aggregator Next Big Sound, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Last.fm, ReverbNation, SoundCloud, iLike, Wikipedia, among others.
Uncharted will capture 50 artists across various genres of music, including country, rock, hip-hop, and Latin. To qualify, artists must be registered MySpace Music artists and have not previously appeared on a major Billboard chart, such as the Hot 100 or Billboard 200.
Occupying the No. 1 slot on this week's Uncharted ranking is hip-hop solo artist Traphik, described by Billboard as a "California-based Thai-American rapper known for his comedic YouTube videos and rhymes." Other artists in the top five include DJ BL3ND, Colette Carr, Javier Jofre, and the Deadlies.
For Billboard, the new initiative is one way to attempt to stay relevant in an industry flooded by new technologies and outlets, such as The Hype Machine, Last.fm, Twitter, and others, that help artists build buzz.
For a taste of Traphik, watch his clip poking fun at Black Swan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EellsPFv84&playnext=1&list=PLAE381C448E85DA19&index=36