Life Cycle of #1 Singles on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart from the 1960s to 2010s

Variance of the Life Cycle of # 1 Singles on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart from the 1960s to 2010s

By George Pearson

How do the life cycles of singles charts compare from the 1960s to 2010s?

An artist’s ability to reach their fans has evolved enormously since the 1960s. During the ’60s the field of
popular music took a giant leap forward due to increasingly lower prices of recorded music. Due to this surge in demand the marketing of artists began to develop into a serious commercial endeavour. Marketing
techniques have developed enormously to present day and we now find ourselves in a world of social media
and music streaming applications. By analysing the chart life cycle of several singles from prevalent artists in both time periods we can illustrate how these marketing developments have influenced charting behaviour.

By using Music Industry Data, we are able to visualise the shape of a singles path from its inception in the
charts to its exit out of the charts. Using functions present within the platform will allow for us to compare the two time periods in question. Primarily we shall be using the Absolute function which conveniently lays
selected line graphs over one another zeroed at the same point (see figures 1,2,3,4). Furthermore, we shall be able to superimpose data from multiple artists and time periods to get a feel for the variation on a single graph (see figure 5).

Research and Data Insights:
Figure 1: A selection of Beatles #1 Billboard singles chart entries from the 1960s.

Figure 2: A line graph showing a selection of Rolling Stones #1 singles chart entries from the 1960s.

Figures 1 and 2 clearly show ‘n’ shaped curves for the singles represented within the graphs. We can also
ascertain that the approximate length of time the singles spent in the charts was 2.5 months, a relatively short amount of time. It seems that the single took time to develop a following and reach the number one spot, they then held this position for approximately three weeks. Their exit out of the charts was of similar length of time as their rise causing the observed symmetry.

Figure 3: A line graph showing a selection of Taylor Swift #1 singles chart entries from the 2010s.
Figure 4: A selection of Eminem #1 singles chart entries from the 2010s.
Comparatively, figures 3 & 4 illustrate asymmetric curves. It can be observed that 5 of the 6 singles entered
the chart at number 1. The length of time then spent within the chart varies somewhat however the average is 6.5 months and 5.5 months respectively.

Below in figure 5 we are able to visually compare the chart life cycles; this reinforces our previous

Figure 5: A superimposed selection of singles from the 1960s and 2010s.

Conclusion: Using Music Industry Data
We can surmise that purchasers of records in the 21 st century must have already known about the up and
coming releases of their favourite artists via various marketing channels. Hence, said artist was able to go
straight to number one. With platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and more generally developments in media itself, there are endless touchpoints for consumers to interact with new products. This dynamic marketing potential allows for labels to generate a more sustainable demand for their record, this is reflected in the longer time spent in the charts in 2010s.

In the 60s, it is clear to see that the release itself enabled the majority of the exposure. Whilst marketing
techniques were being developed allowing for a sustained period of sales at # 1, the fall out of the charts was relatively quick as the exposure to the recording became less apparent to consumers. This may well also come down to the format through which recordings are heard. Platforms such as Spotify not only allow for a cheaper listening medium but also encourage further publication of recordings via playlists.