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  • Bluegrass Today Charts

    Got a beef, a suggestion or just like to talk about the current songs climbing the chart? Post your thoughts here!

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    • I think "bluegrass" songs climbing the charts to #1 should have a banjo in the band.
    • You know, I think there is a song in that line somewhere..."If you're gonna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band.."
    • Okay, I think I have it - how's this: "...if you're gonna chart in BT, you'd better have a banjo in the band".?

    • The song "River's Rising" actually has banjo great Sammy Shelor on that track. The banjo was mixed back on this track to feature Andy Hall on Dobro. Nothing against Banjo and certainly not Sammy, he's great, just a creative judgment call. Thanks!
    • And not the only track which Sammy appears on. Kudos Jimmy on a superb project. I know your heart and soul went into this one and it shows. Not just my opinion, but obviously that of many others in the broadcasting community who have pushed it to the top of the charts.
    • edited May 19
      Who "pushed" this to the "top" of the "charts"? Where did it get the amount of airplay to put 10 songs on a list? An unknown artist that bought what seems thousands and thousands of dollars of advertising on the very page that publishes the chart, 10 songs? Really? And just in case you think I'm the only person asking these questions...well...there are many, many of us. 
    • I am so happy to see Ashley Lewis songs from her recently released CD, "Captivated" moving up the BT charts. Looks like she is getting some much deserved, hard-earned appreciation for her amazing music. Not only does she play the fire out of her mandolin, she is a great singer and a fantastic writer. She is also very, very nice. She has worked her tail off for years and has assembled some of today's fantastic musicians to play on her project. Andy Hall, Dennis Crouch, Sammy Shelor, Josh Williams to name a few.  And Jimmy Mattingly as producer? How could it get any better than that?!!!? Congratulations to Ashley and her many friends, can't wait to hear what's next!
    • I played banjo for Ashley for about 10 years.  I watched her develop into an experienced mandolinist and singer, and a prolific songwriter.  Ashley has a lot of smarts in leading a band, as I have witnessed.  I only want the best things for her, and she is well on her way to doing what she has always dreamed about.  Proof of her hard work paid off well with her music getting on the charts and people everywhere recognizing what a great musician she is.  I love the songs on Captivated, and I miss pickin' with her too.  Congrats Ashley!!
    • Some broadcasters think that giving airplay to good music coming from unknown artists is an important and enjoyable part of the job.  But while Ashley's unknown to some folks, there are plenty of us who've known her for a while; see, for instance, Doug Knecht's post above (and anyone who doesn't know Doug Knecht's picking ought to check it out; the first Chris Jones & The Night Drivers CD is one place to do that).  

      I've known Ashley for four or five years now.  She's from northern Illinois, spent some time studying with original LRB member Jeff Midkiff; I met her through Jamie Johnson of the Grascals.  DJs who have copies of the Missy Werner Band's Three Kinds Of Lonesome CD can find her name as my co-writer on a song called "Let It Go," and I think a couple of things from a previous project also got some airplay.  

      Ashley's a talented musician, and she has a sharp and thoroughly professional mind for the business.  As Doug says, she has a lot of smarts; she's worked hard and paid some dues, too.  And between them, she and Jimmy Mattingly - another guy who is or should be pretty well known - have made a record that a lot of people like.  I won't offer my own opinion about the record, as I have a song on it (which, BTW, was about the only one not to have made the chart!), but I'd hate to think that she or anyone like her was deemed to be somehow suspicious by anyone in our industry, simply because they weren't already familiar with her.  
    • edited May 26
      Hi Dennis,

      I’ll do my best to address your questions - see below.

      1) Who “pushed this to the “top” of the “charts”?
      You say charts (plural) but I’m assuming you are really talking about one chart - the Bluegrass Today® Weekly chart, since that’s the only chart I know of that Ashley has reached “the top” of thus far.

      Ashley’s CD has received significant airplay from many of our reporting DJ’s. As a matter of fact 27 of them in the past 2 weeks to be exact. So in answer; a number of DJ’s are playing her single as well as many other tracks on the CD and collectively those votes resulted in her chart position.

      2) Where did it get the amount of airplay to put 10 songs on a list?
      Two things conspired to produce this occurrence in the BT Chart 5 weeks ago. One, I personally did a track-by-track with Ashley on the Bluegrass Radio Network’s Into The Blue®. I report my spins to the chart just as all our reporters do. However, we had roughly 15% fewer DJ’s turn in their reports that week (Easter Weekend). The lower sample pool resulted in higher rankings, including every song that appeared on my interview show with Ashley. This contributed to a large clumping of songs that appeared in the top 20.

      Note, this isn’t the first time this kind of thing has happened. We experienced a large collection of songs from The Roys’ current release Gypsy Runaway Train when they did interviews on a number of stations during the same week including syndicated and satellite radio.  As I recall, Wayne Taylor’s CD also charted numerous songs when he went on a radio tour for the release of his solo effort It’s About Time. However, both of those occurrences weren’t related to a lower than normal number of reporters, but rather a planned and carefully orchestrated radio tour.

      Normally we see a few ties each week, but certainly not of this magnitude and not for the same artist. This was an exception and it completely caught me by surprise. As a result, I am personally re-evaluating the cause and effect of doing an artist track-by-track interview on my program.

      It rubs me a bit to even have to say this, but in answer to your allegation, I can assure you that Ashley’s ad campaign had nothing to do with her receiving an appearance on Into The Blue. I will say however, her campaign most certainly contributed in calling attention to her project among bluegrass fans and DJ’s – which I can only deduce raised the awareness of a number of our reporters. That in-turn may very well have contributed to a number of DJ’s giving the project an extra “listen” and inclusion in their lineup. Even so, if Captivated was an inferior project, no amount of advertising would convince DJ's to play it.

      It’s been my experience that our reporters have very high standards of excellence when it comes to what gets on-air. Many of them are volunteers and weekend warriors who receive little or no compensation for their efforts beyond the satisfaction of a show well programmed and an audience well satisfied.

      Bluegrass Today® is a strong platform to convey a message to our community and I think we’re seeing evidence that it worked for Ashley. I’m not sure how you came up with your estimate of Ashley’s budget, but for comparison sake, a campaign of the caliber she ran costs less than two full page ads in BU.

      On a personal note, I think Ashley is a great talent. It’s hard to break through in this business. Even harder for female artists. I sense that some DJ’s simply don’t like female artists and I’ve never been able to understand that. Nonetheless, with this her third project, it’s obvious she’s done it. I think that’s a milestone to be celebrated.

      Lastly Dennis, I want to tell you that we take great pride in composing our chart as accurately as possible, so our contributors, artists, industry insiders and others can trust the results. You may not always agree with what appears in there, but it is the best snapshot we can provide of what’s happening on radio each week, at least in terms of "spins".

      I want to thank you for your questions and for being a contributor to our chart. Your efforts along with the many other reporters are helping us see what’s hitting air. Something we didn’t really know before the BT chart came into existence more than two years ago. I hope this answers your questions and concerns.
    • Climbing to the top takes courage, hard work and talent.  I can assure you that Ashley has been dedicated to the music and knew in her heart at the age of 8 years old that this was her destiny.  She has love for the music and that is what it is all about.  She has taken time to pay her dues and knows that it is not politics that plays a part.  As mentioned by others she is truly a talented musician.  Listen to the music and I'm sure that you will know it's truly from the heart.  If you have a chance see her live, I think you to will be "Captivated". 
    • Hello Terry, Thanks for helping your readers understand how your chart works.
    • edited May 23
      I don't know of and have never heard of Ashley Lewis, probably to my own detriment, but this is an important topic. The Bluegrass charting process has always been flawed in my opinion, both at Bluegrass Today and Bluegrass Unlimited. I don't think it really reflects what bluegrass fans are buying and listening to. In the end, isn't that what we are looking for? Having a small subset of reporting DJs creates too many opportunities for "phone trees" and for email lobbying to the reporting DJs. It also allows some small radio station with a small listening audience a way to skew the results away from the ultimate objective. There are many examples of unknown artists achieving improbable chart success that don't seem to be a reflection of the actual listening choices in the community. I realize the flaw in the Billboard process of using actual sales data; an environment where Alan Jackson has rested for months, along with Nickel Creek and various compilations. These charts may not really reflect the bluegrass audience and what it is listened to. Still, it seems to me that Bluegrass is a big enough market now to find a way to get away from the archaic process of having reporting DJ's have an oversized impact, especially in the new world where more music is increasingly listened to on unmanned internet radio stations that don't report to the charting publications.
    • Unfortunately, streaming services - and satellite radio - are notorious for keeping quiet about their numbers. The same is true about digital download sales, at least as far as sales by category.
    • edited May 26
      hughmoore said:
      The Bluegrass charting process has always been flawed in my opinion, both at Bluegrass Today and Bluegrass Unlimited. I don't think it really reflects what bluegrass fans are buying and listening to.
      Hugh, our charts were not designed to monitor sales, only airplay. To say it is "flawed" because it doesn't reflect what bluegrass fans are buying, is a little like saying a speedometer is flawed because it doesn't tell how much fuel is left in the tank. It does a pretty good job of showing airplay status - again, the only thing it was designed to do.

      While not perfect, the Billboard chart you mentioned is really the gold standard in regard to sales. I don't think it's a flaw in that chart if one artist continually outsells everyone else and therefore rests at the top for an extended period. It is what it is. A ranking of sales. However, there is no question the Billboard chart could benefit from more sales data if all the artists, labels, etc. would provide it. Sadly, many never report their weekly sales and therein lies the problem. Secondly, the Billboard bluegrass chart has come under some criticism for including artists/projects that many feel shouldn't be categorized as bluegrass.

      If you have a suggestion on ways to make the BT chart better, please share. We're always looking for ways to improve the process.


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