April 29, 2008

Exhibit 7: Record charts

The need for tabulating sales and radio play of units of musical consumption gave birth to record charts, ranked listings of the most popular, profitable or hygienically sound recordings of the moment, most frequently accounted and compiled in weekly shifts. The modern music chart as we know it is loosely based on The Ten Commandments, which were originally ranked in descending order of popular approval. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" was a huge regional hit before its ongoing, record-setting run at the top of the charts. "Thou shalt not covet your neighbor's house" and "wife" have been Nos. 9 and 10, respectively, due to the innate difficulty in controlling internal acts of covetousness. The No. 11 Commandment, "Thou shalt not be bored," and No. 12, "Thou shalt remember thy parents' wedding anniversary," remain outside shots to crack the Top 10 before the year 3000.

The modern record chart was pioneered by Billboard Magazine, an entertainment industry periodical packed from front to back with an impressive array of popularity charts, though it is polite to say one reads it only for the articles. Billboard's Hot 100, ostensibly a listing of the top hundred songs in America at any given moment, has gone through several methodologies over the course of its existence. The Hot 100 was originally a consideration of the combined strength of record sales, radio and jukebox play. Other, more specialized charts emerged to reflect target audiences, such as the Top 40 dance songs, Top 40 country songs, Top 40 R&B songs, Top 40 songs hummed in the shower, Top 40 songs preferred by donkeys, and Top 40 dirges.

In the mid-20th century, critics of pop charts complained informal accounting systems exposed the Billboard Hot 100 to unfair manipulation, most often by nefarious promotional men who "bought" chart positions in exchange for favors or cash. This occurred most famously in 1961, when promoter Les Pochanski paid Billboard $50,000 for filling the top five spots of the Hot 100 with five different versions of "How Much Is That Doggie In the Window." The scandal resulted in an epidemic of back-alley neutering by hypertensive dog owners. Billboard toughened its standards for chart representation soon afterwards, and also stopped offering free top 10 chart positions with the purchase of a Zenith color television.

The Billboard charts were significantly changed in 1991, when Neilsen SoundScan replaced the informal data collection process with wholly accurate, computer-generated sales and airplay data, entered at the point of purchase or broadcast. Gone was the arduous, time-consuming task of gathering information through telephone calls to record stores, radio stations, and gay discos where the driving techno beat made statistical reports difficult to hear, especially over the phone.

Data entry is now automatically collected when a unit is sold, in a process that reflects true, inarguable science:

1. The consumer elects to purchase a recorded product at a retailer.

2. The consumer presents the desired item to a store-designated cashier.

3. The cashier "scans" the bar code of the desired item with a laser device.

4. Inside the laser device, a tiny leprechaun hurriedly scribbles down the bar code number with a tiny pencil.

5. At night the leprechaun compiles all the day's sales data and magically turns it into golden pixie dust.

6. The leprechaun does a jig and sings a merry song about the benefits of industriousness and hard work.

7. The leprechaun gathers up the golden pixie dust and casts it into the wind, which carries the dust to the Peppermint Palace at Gumdrop Hill.

8. The Jolly Dragon receives the golden pixie dust and magically reconstitutes it into data with his wagging tail.

9. Maids in attendance to the Jolly Dragon twitter in a way that can only be described as gleeful.

10. The Jolly Dragon then summons a unicorn to deliver the recompiled data across the Vanilla Cream River, through the Puffy Marshmallow Mountains, across the Sweet Strawberry Ocean, through the Minty Nougat Forest, and into the gleaming metropolis of Happy Cookie Land.

11. The data lands on the desk of Murray Steinberg, CPA.

The record chart process has worked in this dependable way for many years with no complications, except for one regrettable incident in which a leprechaun illegally accepted hashish as payola.

Fig. 1: Disgraced leprechaun Smiley O'Smartly arriving at his racketeering trial.


Brooks said...

Smiley O'Smartly makes me happy.

Sildenafil said...

I think the tabulating sales in the radio are the most important part of its earnings because it is the window to show up their prices.

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