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New 'Social 50' Billboard Chart Tracks Musicians

Some college students listen to their iPods at volumes that may lead to hearing damage, according to a new study (Image credit: stockxpert)

There is a new way for musical artists to rocket to the top of the Billboard charts; fittingly, in this day and age, it is through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The new "Social 50" chart debuted by music industry tracker Billboard ranks artists' popularity based on fans' activity on leading social networking sites.

Hip-hop and R&B songstress Rihanna snagged the top spot on the Social 50 in its first week. Rounding out the top five are hot-artists-of-the-moment Justin Bieber, Eminem, Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj.

The weekly Social 50 chart tabulates an artists' popularity using additions of friends, fans, and followers – the various names for social "currency" across social media sites – along with page views and song plays on MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and iLike. The social music tracking service Next Big Sound tallies up this data for Billboard.

To limit how much individual-obsessed online fans can skew the rankings, the new chart also factors in a ratio of page views-to-fans and friends on YouTube and MySpace, respectively, both of which allow such interactions.

"The Social 50 provides a weekly snapshot of the artists with whom music fans engage with the most in the social arena, which in today's world is a significant validation of their investment in an act," said Silvio Pietroluongo, Billboard's director of charts, on the company's website. "The chart is a logical complement to Billboard's other popularity rankings."

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