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AN OPEN LETTER TO THE BIBLE'S CHART CHIEF

Silvio Pietroluongo
VP Charts & Data Development
Billboard

Dear Mr. Pietroluongo,

Why on earth would you throw away Billboard’s last valued asset (save for, on occasion, its cover) and final vestige of legitimacy by consorting with public enemy #1 of the biz, YouTube?

We can only imagine the changes you’ve seen in your 27 years at Billboard. You watched a dependable—if boring—music trade squander its trusted brand.

Giving Lyor Cohen and Google greater influence over your charts, as we’ve noted previously, would be a colossal error. Google has more money than God and could easily provide fair compensation for music on YouTube—they wouldn’t even feel that kind of expense. That they haven’t, and refuse to consider doing so in the future, is reflective of an ongoing contempt for the music community. It’s a giant fuck-you to us all. Why surrender the most frequently consulted chart in music to the predations of a company that neither understands nor cares about music?

That YouTube has the veracity-challenged Lyor as a mouthpiece should only deepen your suspicion of its motives.

The potential for fraud and corruption with YouTube was already enormous, and Lyor’s recent comments in the press have set off alarms.

Here’s what Lyor said to Recode on 5/8/17: “Do you know that 80 percent of all of watch time is recommended by YouTube? … Everybody thinks that all the music that’s being listened to and watched is by search … And so far, we haven’t taken the labels’ and artists’ input of what’s important, and what’s a priority, and have it surface in the recommendations. And that’s going to start happening.”

“We’ll be fine-tuning our recommendations to users so that, in addition to the many other signals the algorithm takes into account, it also considers artist and label promotional activities,” he told The Wall Street Journal on 4/21. Lyor’s been telling everyone he can hijack the algorithm to push whatever he wants pushed, suggesting that he may be positioning YouTube to be the go-to platform for chart gaming.

John Amato isn’t a bad guy, but he’s susceptible to such snake-oil salesmen, as he’s a music-biz neophyte who doesn’t understand the rules of the game yet. But you have the experience and knowledge to educate him. Instead of being part of the problem, you have a huge opportunity here to be part of the solution.

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