Rolling Stone’s heavily-hyped charts release remains M.I.A., with rumors pointing to numerous snags and even in-fighting.
It was the chart release that promised to finally challenge Billboard and Nielsen Music. Just one problem: it’s still mysteriously non-existent.
On May 11th, Rolling Stone owner Penske Media abruptly canceled the release slated for the 13th. The nixing followed a week of pre-release hype, a shift that suggested a serious snag (or more likely, snags).
Rumors initially suggested problems with securing data, particularly from unnamed streaming services. According to Hits Daily Double, one issue may be Rolling Stone’s plan to alter the weighting of free vs. paid streams, a factor that has become critically important to certain facets of the industry. The result is a situation that not only involves streaming platforms, but may also involve critically-influential major labels.
In short, greater algorithmic weighting towards premium (paid) streams reduces the importance of YouTube, which is overwhelmingly free. The immediate result is that YouTube, notorious for paying extremely low royalties to rights owners, has been penalized with lower chart influence. That, in turn, makes YouTube less important for artists hoping to score lofty chart positions, while shifting the emphasis towards paying fans.
It’s a classic ‘payback’s a bitch’ scenario.
But now, a plan to raise YouTube’s influence with Rolling Stone’s rankings could be causing a serious industry rift — and interminably delaying the launch.
Also caught in this soup is Music Business Worldwide and its founder, Tim Ingham. As a Penske partner, Will Ingham re-post and report on Rolling Stone’s YouTube-friendly algorithm? Or is this alliance potentially toxic?
Incidentally, Hits also reported that BuzzAngle CEO Jim Lidestri was bowing out of the project — with a giant middle finger salute. But that doesn’t seem to be true.
Earlier, Penske invested in BuzzAngle and rebranded the company ‘Alpha Data’ for the charts launch. Whether Lidestri is actually ditching his entire BuzzAngle brand equity for the Rolling Stone release now appears doubtful, though his commitment to the initiative remains strong.
“There is no change in my status,” Lidestri emailed DMN. “I’m still the CEO of [BuzzAngle/Alpha parent] Border City Media and focused heavily right now in getting the Rolling Stone charts launched.”
Lidestri didn’t say why the charts release was still delayed, however.
The situation follows the abrupt departure of Rolling Stone Publisher/Chief Revenue Officer Andrew Budkofsky, who left the magazine after just one year.