To paraphrase Marty Stuart, Americana music is more about the art and the heart than the charts. That said, the Americana Music Association radio airplay chart has been an important part of the industry for 23 years. And this week, that chart gets its most significant overhaul in that time.
First, says AMA executive director Jed Hilly, is automating the way the roughly 80 panel stations report the songs they play.
“We’re moving from a manually input chart to a monitored chart.”
Program directors have had to submit reports based on their own individual systems for logging music, which can be tedious and inaccurate.
“They don’t have to do anything now," says Hilly. "The monitored system tracks a song, tracks an album and inputs it into the system automatically.”
This courtesy of a company called CDX Nashville and its song recognition system called TRACtion, which uses proprietary technology to identify songs from the various stations’ internet streams. It’s already well established in other formats, including country.
The other big change is the addition of a second chart - a singles chart - in Americana. Today when you see that Margo Price has the number one album with 689 spins last week, that’s an aggregate of all the various songs stations are playing. And that’s not going away. But should labels or promoters take an interest in working specific songs, they’ll now have real time, station-by-station information about who’s playing what.
Jed Hilly: “I think it will become something separate and it won’t invade the integrity of the album art form that we hold so dear.”
"It is our belief that monitored airplay tracking will allow promoters, labels and artists to more accurately measure success and optimize their marketing and promotion efforts," said CDX Nashville VP Joe Kelly in a prepared statement.
The change has been in the works for about eight months, including extensive vetting by the AMA board. WMOT’s program director Jessie Scott has been a key consultant on the shift to the CDX system.