Two new NZ “hot” singles charts are bringing fresh and dynamism to the top 40 on the other side of the Tasman.
Launched at the beginning of the last month, the Hot 40 and the Top 20 Hot NZ Singles operate in tandem with the traditional charts, but reward artists whose songs gain the most new sales, streams and airplay each week.
As in other territories, the advent of streaming has meant that it is much harder to dislodge bigger artists from the top 20 because their existing fans are continuing to listen to their favourite tracks each week. So even if an artist is effectively not gaining any “new” listeners, they can still retain a high position in the charts.
Recorded Music NZ chart manager Paul Kennedy says the “Hot” charts are designed to show how many more new fans are interested in a particular track week-on-week. And so far, they look to be achieving that aim.
For example, this week’s Hot 40 boasts four new songs in the top 10, including a new No. 1, and a further 18 new entries in the remainder of the chart.
Kennedy says the first few weeks of the “Hot” charts were skewed a little by the arrival of Drake’s Scorpion, with the rapper taking the top spot in the first three weeks. Even then, two individual songs shared the No. 1 position and no Drake song is in the top 40 at the moment; however, in the official singles chart, Drake is still on top, with two others still featuring in the overall top 40
“As time goes on, I think what we had with Drake will turn out to be a little bit of an anomaly,” Kennedy says. “From now on I expect to see a more diverse list of artists topping the chart each week.”
In one sense, the “Hot” charts are a return to the old way of honouring the most popular songs in any given week.
“It used to be that you had to get new people each week buying your single to stay there in the top 20. With our new chart you need to keep moving forward, and get more and more people listening to your song, otherwise you fall out.”
And with new songs appearing each week, Kennedy hopes that the charts will also serve as a discovery option, opening up people to new music.
In addition, the Hot NZ Top 20 looks to be providing more opportunities to showcase a much broader range of local artists. The official NZ singles chart has been dominated this year by Six60, with all six songs from their latest EP having been a fixture in the top 10 for almost the entire year.
This week, Six60 are still No. 1 in the “Hot” chart as well with their song “Vibes”, but it’s a track which has been actively promoted in the past month and no other songs from the EP appear in the top 20. Overall, there are 12 new entries in the Aug. 6 Hot NZ Top 20.
In another boost for local content, the chart is the main inspiration for a 30-second “One To Watch” video teaser, which runs each week on Recorded Music NZ’s social media channel.
So would the “Hot” charts work in Australia? Kennedy says that is a decision for ARIA, but he points out that Australia has similar issues as New Zealand in terms of chart stagnation and local content. “I think we’ve found a good solution to dealing with some of those issues,” he adds. “I would certainly say that it has worked so far here.”