The Whitburn Project: 120 Years of Music Chart History

For the last ten years, obsessive record collectors in Usenet have been working on the Whitburn Project — a huge undertaking to preserve and share high-quality recordings of every popular song since the 1890s. To assist their efforts, they’ve created a spreadsheet of 37,000 songs and 112 columns of raw data, including each song’s duration, beats-per-minute, songwriters, label, and week-by-week chart position. It’s 25 megs of OCD, and it’s awesome.

As far as I know, this is the first time the project and its data have ever been discussed outside of Usenet. Despite its illegality, they’ve created a wonderful resource and you can do some fun things with the data. For the next three days, I’m going to publish some analysis and insights gleaned from their work. Update: I published an entry about one-hit wonders and pop longevity.


History of the Whitburn Project

Named after Joel Whitburn and his authoritative Billboard books, the Whitburn Project began in 1998, when a group of 15 collectors pooled their resources to create an MP3 collection of every single in the top 40. They experimented with trading the files on P2P networks, but eventually landed in Usenet instead.

The Excel spreadsheets were created to help them verify their collections were complete, with new versions updated and re-uploaded to the newsgroups weekly. Later, other collectors found the spreadsheet and built tools on top of it, including a utility to rename files properly and locate missing songs.

Originally, most of the Whitburn Project was simple data entry and fact-checking, but as the project grew, it forked away from the Whitburn books. “This spreadsheet does not reflect the Whitburn information found in his books,” wrote Bullfrog, one of the spreadsheet’s maintainers. “Whitburn has changed the way he numbers the annual songs at least twice since this [spreadsheet] was created. We feel that he went off the deep end a little, so will not be following his new numbering scheme.”

They’ve also added new fields culled from their own research. “Obviously with the addition of BPM, genre, and the like,” wrote Bullfrog, “it has become its own entity and will continue to be from now on.”

Over the last few months, I’ve tried multiple times to contact the maintainers of the spreadsheet and the excellent Whitburn newsgroup FAQ, but they haven’t responded.

The Data

There are several Whitburn spreadsheets uploaded to multiple Usenet newsgroups sporadically, but the most useful is the “Billboard Pop ME (1890-2008),” which is posted in alt.binaries.sounds.whitburn.pop.

Note: This data is almost certainly a violation of Billboard’s copyright, and probably infringes on Record Research’s books too. The analysis I’m publishing here should fall under fair use, but redistributing the spreadsheet would not. If you’re brave (or dumb) enough to locate and mirror a copy of the file, leave a comment. Update: An anonymous commenter posted the spreadsheet to Rapidshare/Megaupload.

Above is a sample of the top 10 songs from 2007, so you can see the format and fields of the collected data, along with the key explaining each column. (Scroll to the right to see all the fields.)

Song Lengths Over Time

I’ll be focusing more on analysis tomorrow, but here’s one of the first questions I asked when stumbling on this spreadsheet. Are pop songs are longer or shorter now than in previous decades? A quick query reveals this chart of average playtimes per year.

Pop songs became shorter in the early 1960s, around the 2:30 mark, before rising yearly until peaking in 1992 at 4:16. Since then, pop songs have hovered around 4 minutes long.

The longest charting song of all time is Harry Chapin’s live version of “A Better Place to Be,” at an epic 9 minutes and 30 seconds. Runners-up include Guns n’ Roses’ “November Rain” (8:56), Don McLean’s “American Pie” (8:36), and a new entrant, Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Possess Your Heart” (8:35).

And the shortest? The Womenfolk’s cover of Malvina Reynolds’ “Little Boxes” from 1964 is only 1 minute and 3 seconds long. The shortest modern song to chart is Zac Efron’s “What I’ve Been Looking For,” the third-shortest charting song of all-time at a brief 1:19.

How about the length of the perfect pop song? For this, we can look at the mode to find the most common song lengths by decade. For example, in the 1940s, there were 42 songs that were exactly 3:01, making it the perfect song length for that decade.

1950s, 2:30 (95 songs)

1960s, 2:30 (250 songs)

1970s, 3:30 (153 songs)

1980s, 3:59 (142 songs)

1990s, 4:00 (132 songs)

2000s, 3:50 (58 songs)

I was surprised at how exact these numbers are. The capacity for 45 RPM records was about three minutes, setting the standard for pop singles well into the 1960s. By the late 1960s, those constraints were removed, and we start to see longer singles. But without artificial constraints, why did exactly four minutes become the de facto standard in the 1980s and 1990s? (Maybe Madonna knows.)

I’m tired. More analysis tomorrow, including a look at one-hit wonders and how quickly singles fall off the charts over time. Update: Here it is.

109 thoughts on “The Whitburn Project: 120 Years of Music Chart History

  1. This is a labour of love, and a very impressive piece of work.

    I think there is a useful comparison to be made here between freely available information of this sort and non-DRM-protected (or cracked) books, games, and audio files.

    In decades and centuries to come, databases such as this one will become an invaluable resource for historians, whereas their proprietary equivalents will languish in Billboard’s (or any other Billboard’s) archives, if such companies even continue to exist.

    Similarly, protected media is certainly advantageous from a short-term profit-making point of view, but what cultural relevance will it have for future generations once licence servers have been shut down and its contents have been rendered inaccessible by encryption? How can anything so ephemeral pass into the canon of human achievement?

    Another point that crossed my mind yesterday was that as storage space increases and the file-size of audio remains relatively constant, we may well get to the stage where perfect copies of record companies’ entire catalogues (of verifiable quality and authenticity thanks to lists such as these) are traded as easily as text files. (It is true that private torrent sites are getting us at least some of the way there). To me, that is both an exciting and daunting thought.

  2. Very interesting..

    It’d be interesting to see the maximum length of time a track has been in the charts per decade.. I.e. – do we tire of our pop songs more quickly now than we did in the past?

    Also, what was the youtube link to? It’s not available for those of us in the UK.

  3. Also, what was the youtube link to? It’s not available for those of us in the UK.

    It’s a Madonna song called “4 Minutes,” which, curiously enough, has very little of Madonna singing and much more from two random guys.

  4. I wonder why songs became as short as they did in the late 1950s, when they had been 30 seconds longer ten years prior. Because it was fashionable, and what other recording artists were doing at the time?

    It’s also interesting to see songs started becoming longer from the start of the 1960’s when the likes of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were coming onto the scene. Coincidence?

  5. Great find, Andy, thank you for posting about it. These guys are librarians, what they’re doing is cataloging and archiving media. It’s a valuable service. I’m sure you’re correct about the copyright concerns of the project, but it’s a shame that the discussion has to be framed that way.

  6. I can’t help but think that this effort would be better spent at Musicbrainz.org – Excel spreadsheets don’t have APIs

  7. Clare: Yeah, I’ve read that thoroughly. The spreadsheet is a compilation, which remains copyrighted. Also, it’s more than just a database of facts. Billboard is tracking the retail/online sales and radio play themselves (i.e. Neilsen Soundscan) and using their own method to determine rankings, so it meets the “industrious collection” requirement, as well.

    a birdy: I can’t condone it, but I can verify that the link you posted is the same version of the spreadsheet I used for my analysis.

  8. a birdy : thank you – you are like a little birdy visiting my window and singing a sweet song.

    andy : fantastic – have never heard of this list – the song length data is fascinating.

    …and to the compilers of this list, I tip my hat to you all.

  9. That is so awesome!

    I wonder how large the mp3 collection of the spreadsheet gets, tho, come to think of it, they prolly trade it in FLAC.

  10. John Lampard: I wonder why songs became as short as they did in the late 1950s, when they had been 30 seconds longer ten years prior. Because it was fashionable, and what other recording artists were doing at the time?

    My uneducated guess: maximizing consumers’ enjoyment of their newfangled rocking and rolling by speeding up tempos. Faster = more fun to dance to, at least to a point.

  11. I did receive an email from Andy in April. I have been so busy that to be honest, I totally forgot about it. You will be getting a response shortly. As for the copyright, you are probably right. However, if you subscribe to Billboard (I have for over 30 years now), you will find that any old data is no longer available. Questions posted to Fred Bronson from Chart Beat shows that old data is no longer available. Even some of the charts you can get online at Billboard do not match what was in the actual magazine (due to updated or corrected data I think). Some of this data is not available anywhere else, like which charted singles were mono and which were stereo in the late 60s, early 70s (the main project I am now on).

    As for whitburn, don’t even get me started there. To me he has never been anything more than another collector, that happened to put out a book. The spreadsheet only uses his numbers because they are widely known. His numbers were used at the very beginning of the project and has grown from there. Believe me, if I could I would change them. No one else in the industry ranks records the same as he does. Also, the times he uses in his annuals are not always correct. He puts the time that is shown on the label. We are slowly verifying every 45 and putting actual play time. Pat Downey does this, but his data is incomplete and only covers top 40.

    As Andy has shown, it is easier to extract data (the time differences is interesting) from one location, then trying to gather it all up from many sources.

    For those interested, the spreadsheet is updated weekly and posted on Usenet every 2 to 3 weeks

  12. Which newsgroup?

    For those interested, the spreadsheet is updated weekly and posted on Usenet every 2 to 3 weeks

  13. I found it in alt.binaries.sounds.whitburn.pop, but it’s posted in the rest of the alt.binaries.sounds.whitburn.* groups. If your Usenet provider doesn’t have those, it’s also in alt.binaries.sounds.1950s.mp3, alt.binaries.sounds.1960s.mp3, alt.binaries.sounds.1970s.mp3, alt.binaries.sounds.1980s.mp3, and alt.binaries.sounds.1990s.mp3.

  14. Andy,

    Is there any master lookup for song titles ? A separate

    website not related to the Whitburn behemoth that’s

    easy for a Mac user to use ?

    Thanks,

    Harvey

  15. I’m on a Mac, and the Excel spreadsheet works fine for me. I’d love to provide a lookup service, but that’d likely be a violation of Billboard’s copyright.

  16. Andy, this is great stuff, thanks for bringing this to my attention and for your interesting and thoughtful analysis.

  17. Wonder if anybody in this group may have some info on Bobby Lewis’ ” Tossin’ and Turnin’ “.

    On one version, the line… ” Baby, Baby, You did something to me ” opens the song.

    On the other ( Australian release ? ) that line is absent.

    Both sound like the same 1961 version.

    Would appreciate any insight in to the history.

    Thanks.

  18. “How about the length of the perfect pop song?…

    But without artificial constraints, why did exactly four minutes become the de facto standard in the 1980s and 1990s?”

    There is no such thing as the perfect pop song length per se, you can keep repeating a song you like endlessly without being bored for long time… everyone does it or has done it at least once for sure, if there’s a hidden magic number, at least is not musically related.

    Here is the big reason for the song length patterns:

    Another artificial constraint not spoken of but used I bet, since the beginning:

    Advertising space

    Radio and TV stations don’t survive from thin air so they need to include advertising, probably something along this lines happened:

    “How much time people can tolerate ads before changing to another station? ” they went and worked out some statistics I guess, and came up with 25% of air time to advertising, somebody else can know better than me about how they came with this number.

    Now, “that’s 15 minutes per hour, what do we do with the other 45 minutes?”

    Distract people from the fact that this is merely business by playing some songs

    “how many songs do we need to play?, it does not matter as long as they are entertained”…

    … wait a minute, that’s not true, if you play one or two 8 minute songs one after another, are people going to wait till they are bored or will change station too?

    “we need to play only short songs, we have a deal!”

    Or not?

    “Hey, somehow we can’t structure correctly our programs to one hour blocks, why?”

    Easy one, how many songs have the same length in minutes? barely none, is not the nature of any form of art to be constrained in that way, period.

    “Pfffffff… hey you record company, fix this!”.

    And “Radio edit” term was born, they fixed things by shortening songs, taking out some bars from the song… that solo nobody understands, the boring intro, the over extended chorus, the cinematic grand finale, etc. whatever the song does “not need”.

    And this reached the musicians: “either you fix the song or they will not play it, that’s it.”

    I got this speech from a producer not too many years ago, it’s true.

    End result: musicians have to think of a song in terms of radio playability too, is not just a matter of art anymore.

    At this point somebody probably is asking why the length changes then if all was already worked out in favor of radio stations?

    Have a look at the table again:

    1950s, 2:30 (95 songs)

    1960s, 2:30 (250 songs)

    Up until now the constrain was the size of the 45″ vinil records, it’s true.

    But it’s also true that modern music as we know it was just in dippers and starting to evolve, new music never heard was being created everywhere in the world and new genres too so there was no need for lengthy songs, wherever you looked at, there was a couple of good songs to add to the radio station rotation.

    1970s, 3:30 (153 songs)

    1980s, 3:59 (142 songs)

    1990s, 4:00 (132 songs)

    2000s, 3:50 (58 songs)

    And then song lengths increase in a steady way, but still you can see the time length controlled pattern, no matter the decade.

    The answer to this behavior is simple as well:

    As the genres grew old, there was a lot less new and good song choices to pick up so air time has to be filled with lengthy songs more and more each decade.

    The decrease in talent or creativity is another big subject to discuss about, and radio has a lot of guilt on this too.

    I know is kind of hard to take this facts in consideration but certainly they give another perspective to the project, and can modify some of the results.

    Nevertheless, great project! πŸ˜‰

  19. Great stuff! The dream (admittedly a silly one that will not really bring happiness, but that’s OCD for you) would be to have instant access to lossless copies of every one of these songs (plus all variations and remixes of them) at any location at any time. Then add instant access to any music videos or live performances, plus the same thing for every album that ever charted … and every song on EVERY other chart … maybe of every country. I wonder how much hard drive space THAT would take up?

  20. It’s really not that crazy. If you ballpark an average 40MB per song, getting lossless versions of all 37,000 songs would be 1.4 terabytes of data. That sounds like a lot now, but you can buy a terabyte hard drive for under $200 now. That’ll only get cheaper.

    And if the project moved from Usenet to BitTorrent, a single torrent (or set of torrents) could manage all the files and let people fill/replace their missing pieces.

  21. Oh yeah, and lyrics too, of course. And karaoke versions and everything else you could think of, all instantly available from anywhere.

  22. Sorry, Andy, my comment at 11:37am was made without having seen your comment at 11:26am. However, your comment does not acknowledge the extras in my 10:40am comment: INSTANT access to all of these songs PLUS: every song on every Top 100 album ever, every music video, every song on all the other Billboard charts (R&B, country, many more), every song on every other nation’s major charts, every other version/variation of each song (there are often many!), etc. [Plus karaoke versions, lyrics, parodies, what have you.] Petabytes!

  23. How many years do you think? 10? 20? Until all this media should be available instantly by portable device (cellphone or whatever technology comes next). And, of course, you’d want every episode of every TV show ever, plus every movie ever, etc. It would be cool to live to enjoy that, but of course it won’t mean humans are one iota happier.

    Anyway, thanks a bundle for the info! I’d first encountered this spreadsheet in late ’05 but sort of forgot about it until now. I think I’ll normalize the data into a set of database tables and play around with it (create queries and the like). I know it’s not OK to go public with it, but I hope it’s OK for personal use.

  24. Hi Andy,

    I’ve just namechecked your tireless work at my website musicradar.com – on the back of a recent UK survey that finds 44% of 18-24 year olds skip a song after 30 seconds. That’s iPod culture gone mad. In 5 years time, even the best artists may be just writing jingles just to get heard…

    Great project, it’s fascinating stuff.

  25. Incredible data. I have whitburns books for the 60’s 70’s and 80’s, and do not regret having purchased them.

    Putting the data in a spread sheet makes it more researchable and easier to use. Needless to say, pulling out the books when I need a quick check of a fact, or what songs were charting when tends to be a pain.

    Thanks for the information!

  26. I just found this discussion. What a great piece of work, reliable chart information from before 1940 is really hard to find.

    My site combines music charts from all over the world to do a similar thing for the world’s music. I think that you guys would find it interesting.

  27. Is there anywhere i can find correct times of all 45rpm records from billboards hot 100 history?

  28. I was wondering if anyone is working on doing this complete billboard collection of all orginal 45’s rather than a mix of 45’s and digital cd? Thanks

  29. Can someone please tell what the A-S-X tab on the spreadsheet represents? I can’t seem to find an explanation anywhere. thanks!

  30. Jim wrote:

    Can someone please tell what the A-S-X tab on the spreadsheet represents? I can’t seem to find an explanation anywhere. thanks!

    A = Air Play

    S = Sales

    X = Christmas

  31. O.T. wrote:

    Is there anywhere i can find correct times of all 45rpm records from billboards hot 100 history?

    as far as i know there is no complete offical list. Since you can’t believe the labels themselves or Whitburns books, I guess the only way is to listen and time them yourself.

    O.T. wrote:

    I was wondering if anyone is working on doing this complete billboard collection of all orginal 45’s rather than a mix of 45’s and digital cd? Thanks

    Easy answer is yes, it is being tried. Hard part is trying to find all the original 45s, 78s, single cassettes, and single CDs. If you want the collection to be authentic then there must be a way of checking each entry. anyone can say this is an original 45 rip, try proving it.

  32. There is no stand alone list of correct times for 45’s. But the spreadsheet referred to in the first paragraph of this article has a column labeled Time Source. This will list the source of the time if it is other than the label. Currently there are 4,161 times for 45’s that have been confirmed by timing the actual original commercially available 45. Not uncommon for this time to be different than the printed label time.

  33. I have been searching the Net for this data for years, in particular the pre-1955 chart placings & charts info since 1996. Being in Australia, what with postage plus US exchange rates etc, the cost of Whitburn’s books is sometimes triple the US price so I can’t afford to update too often. However I am still searching for similar info re the R & B/Hip Hop & Country Music Charts.

    Are there plans to integrate these into the current database or perhaps provide these on separate spread sheets. I do hope so at some stage. If anyone can help, I’m currently looking for R&B Chart placings for Dinah Washington & Ella Fitzgerald but my Google seraches have proved fruitless (Until I found this site of course πŸ™‚

    Many thanks again to all

    Mike

  34. Mick, There are spreadsheets for R&B 1942-1999, Country 1944-2007, Rock Tracks 1981-2007 and another spreadsheet called SASS that has all of the following on one spreadsheet, Pop Artist, Pop Year, Bubblers, R&B, Rock, Disco, Xmas, Country, Britburn. These other spreadsheets don’t have all the info that the Whitburn Pop has, but all have atleast yearly rankings. All these .xls spreadsheets can be found on usenet.

  35. I’d just like to say a public thanks to Sky who has been good enough to email me copies of all the spreadsheets. It’s like all my Xmases are here at once so it’s gunna be a fun weekend going through this lot

    Next up is to see how I can help with some of the tracks. I’ll certainly be able to help fill some of the gaps in the Ozburn charts which I wasn’t expecting. I actually have all of Gavin’ Aussie State Chart Books but it’s great to have them spread out like this.

    So glad I found this site & again thanks to Sky

    Mick

  36. Dear Sky,

    I tried to download the spread sheets from usenet, but it didn’t work… could you maybe sent them to me via email like you did with Mick? I can’t believe this type of data is available now, you wouldn’t believe how long I’ve been looking for this!

    Thanks a million,

    Anniii

  37. For those of you who are interested, there’s apparently a solo Brit who’s been compiling this data for UK charts just because he owns all of it. It’s fairly easily searchable if you know something about what you’re looking for:

    everyhit.co.uk

  38. Surprise Surprise…

    Billboard Charts are based on retail orders. NOT on what the pubic buys or radio airplay.

    Therefor, my music collector friend, if you really want to know hits of a artist, you will need to research radio airplay lists coast to coast. I am in Topeka Kansas and KEWI AM in the 1970s has many songs on their TUNEDEX that never seen the ink of Billboard but they were hits (locally). Billboard is a collector guide not the rule.

    If you don’t believe me, when Billboard says a MUSIC SET has gone Gold or Platinum chances are it isn’t in stores yet.

    Good luck with your search.

    Matthew Harris, Disc Jockey since 1972.

  39. This is fantastic. I really appreciate the heads up about this effort, and am happy to hear that there are obsessive compulsive types that love the intersection between popular music and data warehousing and reporting.

  40. Is there an R&B equivalent to the pop spreadsheet posted anywhere? Perhaps that’s only available via the Usenet groups? Comcast has blocked their newsgroup access starting this past month…

  41. I was in small-market middle-of-the-road radio in the 70’s, and one rule they had during the day part was no more than two commercials between records. As the week went on and commercials piled up, you had to play shorter and shorter records, cut them off sooner, or play instrumentals and read commercials over them. Don’t know if this was a holdover from earlier times, but there do exist airchecks of DJs up to Wolfman Jack conducting on-air business over currently popular songs, often between verses.

  42. I have Bullfrog, Vidiot, Rocketman, and so MANY people I wish I could thank in person for their help in this project. Through them I found so many missing songs in my collection that I would have never, ever found elsewhere. I can never express my thanks and eternal gratitude to these folks for their devotion, and the time they put into research and finding each and every song. You guys rock.

  43. I do believe that the longest charted pop song ever was Creedence Clearwater Revival’s version of “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” at just over 11 minutes in length.

  44. John: The 11-minute album version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” was edited down to 3:58 for a single release in 1978. That’s the one that we still hear on radio, not the meandering jam from Cosmo’s Factory.

  45. Can I still obtain a master list for the Whitburn R&B tracks. I have several of the songs from 1980 to about 1995 but am missing a lot. If I can at least get an excel spreadsheet of the top 300 or so I would be greatful.

  46. I have over 7000 45rpm records listed with full information and Time on my 45 rpm Database web site. Hope this helps you with information.

  47. looking for a data base on songs to use for analysis with pupils at school

    this might just be it!!

  48. Interested in the project in general. I have some “iceberg” research that may prove interesting (pre-1944 country charts, pre-1955 top 100s, etc).

  49. Fiona, I think it’s great that you are using it for class. I did the same when I taught Excel Night classes when I first created the spreadsheet in 1999. I gave them the assignment to figure out how to have excel display the “weeks at #1” “weeks in top 10” etc, referencing bogus weekly data (as it wasn’t compiled yet). It really seemed to open a new world of possibilities from their perspective.

    Bullfrog has since taken over the project a few years ago, I have taken on the challenge to provide the weekly data for R&B, Rock & Country; to answer several questions here. R&B should be finished (’88-present) in about a month. There are Spreadsheets out there for those genres, they just don’t have the weekly data and aren’t “up-to-date”. But once they are out, the student can choose what genre they want to do a report on.

    I think it’s great that such an interest in the spreadsheet exists. Once it leaked to the newsgroups, the demands got larger and larger, which benefited everyone. And people asked to help fill in the missing data; who, over the last decade, have become very dear friends.

    The hours involved in creating what it is now can probably be tallied in the millions, I don’t think we stir much over it, we just do what we enjoy. The spreadsheet helps us to remember the music that defines our lives.

  50. I have a set of long-out-of-print compendiums by Frank Hoffman and George Albert of the Cashbox charts. (No, I’m not parting with them.)

    β€’ Pop Singles Charts 1950-1993 ISBN 1-56308-316-7

    β€’ Album Charts 1955-1974 ISBN 0-8108-2005-6

    β€’ Album Charts 1975-1985 ISBN 0-8108-1939-2

    β€’ Country Singles Charts 1958-1982 ISBN 0-8108-1685-7

    β€’ Country Album Charts 1964-1988 ISBN 0-8108-2273-3

    β€’ Black Contemporary Singles Charts 1960-1984 ISBN 0-8108-1853-1

    β€’ Black Contemporary Album Charts 1975-1987 ISBN 0-8108-2212-1

    β€’ Charts For The Post-Modern Age 1978-1988 ISBN 0-8108-2850-2

    I special-ordered them through Barnes and Noble back in 1999 (still have the fading receipt) and they arrived without dust jackets. I assume all except Pop Singles Charts 1950-1993 originally had them, but I guess it’s a little too late to complain. πŸ™‚

    BTW, Post-Modern Age covers :

    β€’ Compact Discs (as opposed to LP and Cassettes) 9/1984-1988

    β€’ Jukebox Programmer (Three separate charts, all published from 2/1982-12/1985)

    β€’ Black Contemporary

    β€’ Country

    β€’ Pop

    β€’ Mid-Line Priced Albums 12/1982-9/1984

    β€’ Music Videocassettes 7/1985-4/1987

    β€’ Music Videos (i.e. TV Airplay) 3/1984-6/1987

    β€’ Rap Albums and Singles (Two separate charts 5/1988-)

    β€’ Twelve-Inch Singles (10/1978-1988)

    β€’ Video Games (11/1982-4/1984)

    β€’ Videocassettes (4/1982-9/1987)

    β€’ Rental Videocassettes (3/1988-6/1988)

    β€’ Retail Videocassettes (3/1988-6/1988)

    To me, they’re a fascinating look at a different take on the charts than Billboard’s, including several charts that have never had their BB equivalents Whitburned. With Cashbox out-of-print, could their data be added to the Whitburn project for cross-reference. Also notable are six songs noted as not included on Country Singles 1958-1982 as Cashbox listed them without artist information, and the artists’ names could not be tracked down!

    Unfortunately, all except Pop Singles list songs as such:

    ARTIST

    12-13-84 Song Title (Label 12345) 87, (2), 75, 45, 34, 33, 32, 40, 55, 94 (9)

    (2) indicates 2 weeks off the charts

    (9) indicates nine weeks total spent on the charts

    Nice to see a song’s entire chart history at a glance, but not easy on the eyes.

    And to that end, have any compendiums of chart data from American trade publications OTHER than BB and Cashbox ever been published. (Say, Radio & Records or Record World.)

  51. I have joined UseneXT just so I could find the spreadsheet of R&B singles like in a Joel Whitburn Annual type book. I am desperate to find it, for I can’t find it anywhere. I have found rock, country, and pop, but R&B is nowhere to be found. In particular, I need the top 100 R&B songs each year 1970-1990. If anybody can tell me where I can find it . . . or email it to me directly ( countryfan1980s@yahoo.com ), I would GREATLY appreciate it!

  52. Hi!

    I’ve been looking for the spreadsheet of the Mainstream-Modern Rock Tracks 1981-2005 posted on the newsgroup. Anyone can upload this file here?

    Thanks a lot.

  53. Hi one and all.

    can anyone help me with a data base spread sheet of the UK Singles charts, PLEASE?

    or a link to a down load site?

    Much thanks

    kind regards

    Lee

    leehugman@aol.com

  54. I am not sure this is “illegal”.

    Historians all the time use primary sources to compile their research- by publishing itself, and by establishing itself by marketing as the chart of record, Billboard does not necessarily have a copyright on the fair use compilation of chart stats- so long as you don’t profit from such stats.

    Joel Whitburn may think this is so cool he wouldn’t be at all upset – I wonder if he’s been contacted for his permission?

    Finally- making a needle-drop record of an out of print 45 is not illegal, again, especially if it is for archival purposes.

  55. OK… here is an idea for analysis-

    Who were truly the most popular charting artists of all time– Whitburn has his pretty basic formula (inverse pts for songs in Top 100, bonus for Top 10 and No. 1).

    It should be possible, with this data, to really come up with a simple raw score of most artist pts. That would be interesting.

  56. @ Steve

    Thanks for the Record World link. I had seen that site years ago but had forgotten about it. Since Geocities is shutting down, has anyone inquired about mirroring that site? Sadly, many of the links off the front page are coming up 404.

    In addition to the Cashbox books, I also have compendiums for various other countries’ charts (Canada, UK, AU, NZ, DE, IT, FR, NL, BE, ZA, SE, NO) that I got through A&R Booksearch. Most of these are from the early ’90s but I haven’t updated them as I am less interested in music from after that era, and much of those songs are listed on-line. Being able to actually listen to songs that were big non-US hits (first on Napster, then Morpheus, then Kazaa, and finally on YouTube, iMeem, and last.fm) often opens up an interesting musical world.

    Based on the comments above, The Whitburn Project has forked to cover Billboard’s other charts. Info has been hard to find since all of the action takes place on Usenet binaries groups which most US ISPs no longer offer. Is there anyway to keep up with the goings-on of the project on the web?

    Also, did Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles stop including chart data from Hot 100 Singles Sales? I noticed that Hot 100 Airplay-only tracks were listed on the sample pages, but there’s no mention of songs that made the Sales chart only.

  57. I am having problems find the complete OCD. I am more interested in the country version of the list. Can somebody point me in the right direction.. and my provider doesn’t have the whitburn usenet newsgroups.

  58. On the contrary, the document you linked says explicitly that databases can be copyrighted… It hinges on the material being collected and how they’re presented. Billboard didn’t just collect facts lying around, like in local white pages. They invented SoundScan, tracked all the sales themselves, and devised an algorithm for determining sales ranks. It’s clearly under copyright.

  59. I am looking for a song that was in the Top 10 in 1958 by a one-hit group named “The Applitones” (sp?),

    but I can’t find any weekly Top 10 lists for ’58 online. Can you help me?

  60. I wanna know if the Beatles made ‘Hey Jude’ as long as it is to beat the then record set by Richard Harris for ‘MacArthur Park’s famous 7 minutes plus . . . .? I once read that Paul McCartney faded it it out for so long so this would be the case. Any info anyone?

    Also, just a quickie . . . .

    How many singles did Donna Summer shift in 1979, when record sales were at an all-time apex? She had a number 4, a number 2 and three number one’s that year alone. Basically, two gold and three platinum discs. Anyone know?

  61. @TimWB

    I think the song you are looking for is not by the “The Applitones” but rather “The Aquatones”.

    They had a hit called “You” which reached number 21 and was in the Billboard charts for 12 weeks starting in April 1958. It also reached number 5 in the Canadian CHUM charts (10 weeks from May 1958).

    The group has no other hit entries in any of the 141 charts we list at our site.

  62. TimWB

    The Applitones? Closest Find…

    Applejacks, Rocka-Conga

    Applejacks, Bunny Hop

    John Zacherle “The Cool Ghoul” o/Applejacks Dinner With Drac Part 1

    Applejacks, The Mexican Hat

    All from Pop Chart.

    This site has been the only real focal point (other than Bullfrogs Pond) to discuss chart data.

    I am finished with the R&B spreadsheet for 88-2009 and it carries all weekly data as well.

  63. Lancefer….

    I see a lot of posts on here looking for r&b data. I am also looking for r&b data. Is your spreadsheet available? Do you have additional data not in the spreadsheet yet? (ie 1942-1987).

    Thanks

  64. @ Steve

    you hit the nail on the head!

    I’d been looking for that song for years, and there’s more than one cover of it too!

    Thanks guys!

  65. Boy, this seems unlikely at this point, but it never hurts to try… If anyone has the combined SASS spreadsheet described above or at least the Rock Tracks one (1981 – now), could you possibly email either the file itself or a link to the file to me at arvinest(at)hotmail(dot)com? Thanks in advance!

  66. can you post how we can find all those xls files? (r&b, country, tracks… or SASS).

    The whitburn usergroup is very difficult available.

  67. I’m a computer science graduate student and am planning to do a project on popular American music from 1950-2010. Some information I plan to include that does not look like it’s already in the Whitburn spreadsheet would be key, whether there are any key changes in the song, and whether the song is original or a cover. I would be willing to freely share my results with anyone who is interested, but a major help for me would be getting a hold of the spreadsheet. If anyone knows where I can locate this spreadsheet I would be most grateful for their help. Thanks!

    -Nicolas

  68. I would really really be grateful if someone could direct me to the r&b charts spreadsheet (esp. 1945-1970). Am working on a research project and that info would be invaluable. I own Whitburn’s Hot R&B Songs 1942-2010, but it’s along way form there to a searcheable database ….

    Thanks to anyone responding!

    -Andrea

  69. Hi does anyone have the week by week chart positions from the ‘hot 100’ on billboard between 1985 and 2000? I know of a site which does it for Australia and for the UK so I’m not sure why it’s illegal to do it for the billboard charts?? USA laws confused me lol

  70. Does anyone know of a website that compares the Billboard pop music charts against those of Cash Box and Record World? I am particularly interested in comparing their number one pop songs as to which song hit number one on all three charts and which song hit number one on only one of the three charts. Look forward to any replies. Thanks!

  71. There may actually be something to the rumor that the well informed geeky+DBA type, like myself, is able to use the Whitburn Project’ Database to pull datasets that are accurately predicting the end of the world.

    According to my findings through a number of different theories, the end is very near. I’m not clear (yet?) how the Mayan’s were able to come to the same conclusions as I have, but they have and it is so obvious that it is all so accurate.

    So much to do, so little time, don’t waste a moment as life is short…

    fy

  72. Is it still possible for a newbie like myself to gain access to music files which were shared during this project?

  73. I’m trying really hard to access the data but the links are all dead or require access means that are beyond my ken. I would be super grateful if someone could link or send the spreadsheet to me. rcalhoun@uwo.ca

  74. I am one of the collectors that was involved with this project some years back. I do have an issue with Joel Whitburn falsifying his information in order to protect his own interest. People, dj’s and radio stations alike spend a lot of money on these books and they are for the most part a good guide. However in most cases I have found with each new addition he adds 10% new info and falsifies 10% so that it is never complete.

    As I continue, this is my opinion in that matter.

    In the case of the charts itself by going back to the actual magazine you will see just how much was left out compared to the Whitburn books.

    The yearly rankings are done in a segment run. First the songs highest position, then how long it stayed on the highest rank, then if it was in the top 10 how long the song lingered there, then the total weeks altogether for that run of the song. That is then tabulated into a database and then ranked altogether. This is why if anyone has a copy of the excel spreadsheet they will find some problems. This mainly occurred during the time there were multiple charts for one genre and are still being weeded out to this day.

    As to who was involved I’de rather not say. I am an old fogie and can’t remember much anymore.

    Dr of Oldies

  75. When November rolls around you might want to start a Christmas music version of this time line. Is it possible? I would like to see how many years of Christmas music went through space.

  76. I would suggest that the Whitburn project needs to expand to all genres of music and also video clips of news events, ham radio communications, short wave radio broadcast archives. How about a rock music or country music or how about a gospel and christian music or international music version. Pop music isn’t just the only thing.

  77. I have been accumulating data on pop for 25 years or so, writers, producers, catalogue numbers, how high they rose to in charts in australia, england, usa – based from mid fifties, i have 37000 titles so far.

  78. Hello, I have been searching for the ‘Whitburn Country Collection 1944-2005 (6.23.06).xls’

    Please could somebody send me it. The links in previous comments no longer work.

    many thanks

    adam@touchecuador .com

  79. A couple of very late updates on this:

    The 150MB or so spreadsheet package is listed on BT, but not presently seeded…

    but someone’s assembled all the *music*, in a package that certainly violates all kinds of copyright, and that’s about 140GB. Ok, all the 70s and 80s music.

    I won’t say where, or what I’m doing about it because (Korean martial artist turns to face camera) That Would Be Bad.

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