Chart positions FORUM: Archive - Beginning April 17, 2003: Chart positions
Top of pageBottom of page   By Heikki ( on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 12:57 pm:

On another thread we discussed with "RD" about chart positions and the meaning of the word "hit", and I would like to continue that discussion here and also hear other forum members' opinions. If I remember correctly, something similar was started here a while back, but it soon discontinued.

During the years, when I've talked to artists and other music business people, I've come to the conclusion that if a record breaks into top-100 (not only pop, but also soul/r&b, country etc.) it can be called a hit. Am I totally wrong here ? I guess it all comes down to how we define the word "hit" and where we draw the line. "RD" gave some good examples - like how Berry Gordy defines a hit (only top-40 and nothing less).

In some cases, when I've wondered about the low position of a certain song in the charts, I've been explained that it was a huge local hit but nationally went almost unnoticed.

I know there are many aspects to this rating: airplay, real sales figures, geographical promotion, big companies/indies, profitableness etc.

As on this forum there are many persons, who have worked in music business for years - be it creating music, spreading it, writing about it or having some other kind of close ties to it - I'd really like to hear your definition of "a hit". What does it actually mean to break into the U.S. top-100 ? Which factors weigh ? Any concrete figures ?

Best regards

Top of pageBottom of page   By Scratcher ( on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 01:27 pm:

Concrete figures will be hard to come by since actual record sales figures were pure speculation until Soundscan. A #18 R&B Billboard one week is different from a #18 in another week or year because the market changes constantly.

Al B. Sure had three #1 R&B hits; the Boys also had three; Freddie Jackson had seven; Loose Ends two; Mac Band featuring the McCampbell Brothers, one; Surface had three; Eugene Wilde two; etc. Where are they now? Can anybody name the Mac Band's #1 hit off the top of their heads? Or, the three Surface #1 R&B hits? What about the Boys' three R&B chart toppers? Loose Ends? Give me all three of Al B. Sure's real quick! The Boys?

Soul artist who score a number one or even Top 20 Pop hit, however, are generally known (the recordings) and remembered by most fans.

Top of pageBottom of page   By KevGo ( on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 05:45 pm:

We covered this topic in a different thread but to answer your question...
To me what makes a record a hit is when two things occur: (1) the audience has a strong positive reaction to what they hear and they buy the record; and (2) the audience grows and grows over the days & weeks as the record (hopefully) charts and advances.
To me, this would be true for any record regardless of genre.
Kevin Goins - KevGo

Top of pageBottom of page   By Scratcher ( on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 06:11 pm:

This topic is impossible to explore intelligently because record sales are a mystery. Plus, it use to occur every now and then that a record would get a lot of airplay that didn't sell many units. They were call radio hits and would often make the lower rungs of the charts. The only thing that really told you what was being played in a city in any given week was the radio station surveys and anything past number 20 on them was suspect.

The artists and their number of #1 R&B hits in my previous post was to illustrate that even some of the top songs for a particular week are unknown to the masses. If that's the case, then how significant is a number 73 R&B chart position? Only the R&B hits that also ranked significantly on the Pop charts are remembered by Joe Blow, unless they were local or regional hits and you lived in the locality; or, Joe Blow is a record collector. The ones with good or even top R&B showings that didn't make at least the Top 40 Pop as well, usually are not.

Top of pageBottom of page   By douglasm ( on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 10:05 pm:

I understand national charts. Can anyone tell me how the Keener or CKLW charts were drawn up?

Top of pageBottom of page   By acooolcat ( on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 10:21 pm:

As Sratcher said - radio DJs would often spin a 45 to death but it would fail to sell - one common term for this is "a turntable hit".
Local radio charts were simply compiled by a person listing down what he/she thought was popular and there wasn't any exact science to it. I asked Jay Butler - a DJ who had this job on one of Dertoit's soul stations in the Sixties - and he confirmed this.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Heikki ( on Saturday, March 29, 2003 - 07:45 am:

Thank you everybody for your answers. I think the best way is to continue to give a record, if it charted, in parenthesis its position, name the genre and call it small, mediocre, big or huge hit.
Best regards

Top of pageBottom of page   By douglasm ( on Saturday, March 29, 2003 - 10:35 am:

.....a good example of a "turntable hit" would be.......?

Top of pageBottom of page   By Scratcher ( on Saturday, March 29, 2003 - 12:45 pm:

Thanks for reminding me of the term Acoolcat, I temporarily forgot it and type "radio hit."

"Laughing Boy" by Mary Wells is a good example of a turntable hit, Motown lost a bundle on it. Yea, it sold some copies, but nowhere near the number expected or pressed.

Recording artists judge whether a recording is a hit by whether they get bookings by the major booking agencies, i.e. Queen Bookings in the sixties. If you had a hit you were signed to do the R&B package shows at theaters and worked the top chitlin' circuit clubs. If you didn't have a hit and hadn't established a fan base the big booking agencies ignored you.

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