Next Big Sound explains: The charts are mostly for show, the meat's in Premier
Our complaint with the more compelling of the two charts, the NBS25, was that it never features the same artists twice, and so it therefore does not provide useful information for those looking for the stars of tomorrow. Turns out the company doesn't allow repeats by design. According to White:
"In reality the charts serve more of a marketing and credibility function at this point. The NBS25 is designed to surface a new list of 25 every week (we don't allow repeats) and is as much for the music fan as for the industry professional to see a snapshot of who is active online. We are huge new music junkies. You're right, an A&R executive would not make big decisions off a public list that everyone has access to, they would want to have exclusive access to a proprietary product that they could filter by any metric they wanted and see trends over time."
What the chart actually does as far as exposing new musicians to a wider audience remains unclear. The one profiting the most from both that chart and NBS's other contribution to Billboard, The Social 50, is Next Big Sound itself because of the charts' marketing value, as White notes.
What Next Big Sound is marketing right now, is its Premier services. You can buy one of three monthly accounts that give you access to an artist's online action. White again:
"Our core product is our Premier subscription product that provides a centralized dashboard back to the industry to view all the data relevant to their artists. Labels, managers and bands can see their social media data alongside traditional sales and radio information and a full event stream to try to discern what causes spikes in activity and hopefully use the results to inform future decision making. Our hundreds of paying subscribers are using it to analyze what's working and not working with artists they are already invested in (rather than using it to find new acts).
And actually, for the right sort of band, this could be really useful. The cheapest package is only $10 per month and allows you to see things like where your fans are geographically and what effect your various attempts at self-promotion are having.
As for the charts, White says the NBS25 algorithm is still in beta, and they hope to tweak it as their stores of information start to tell a larger story. Seems like they know they aren't holding a crystal ball here, so hopefully the chart will come to reflect that.