Not too long ago, Charlie Jabaley had a problem. As the manager for artists such as Travis Porter and 2 Chainz, DJs needed copies of his artist’s singles. Naturally, he obliged. While there’s been a lot of debate at every level—from program directors like Hot 97’s Ebro Darden, to artists, managers and fans—everyone pretty much agrees radio and club play positively impact sales. As it regards radio, there’s quite a bit of data on the matter.
According to a 2008 study by Dr. James N. Dertouzos conducted for the National Association of Broadcasters, at minimum, 14 to 23 percent of music industry sales of albums and digital singles can be attributed to radio airplay. But a basic glance at radio airplay numbers doesn’t tell the entire story—especially for what is deemed as “Urban” music.
“It starts in the club, then it goes to mixshow, then it goes into [radio] rotation,” Jabaley explained, during a conversation with HipHopDX. “It’s mostly that way across the board across the nation. You have to have a foundation. The clubs are like conducting a survey, and if people like in the clubs, that means the radio knows people will like it. It’s a testing ground.”
In line with the cliché about killing two birds with one stone, Jabaley co-founded DJServicePack.com. During his research, he established relationships with DJs across the nation and also ran into the similar data as Dertouzos regarding the correlation between radio airplay in various areas across the nation. What Jabaley ended up with was a mix of strong anecdotal evidence based on members of the music infrastructure in America and the kind of quantitative analysis of provided by Nielsen’s Broadcast Data Systems.
Long story short, Jabaley had the data compiled to chart the top club songs in Atlanta. He posted his findings on Reddit’s Hip Hop Heads forum, and the comments came pouring in. But what if he were to chart similar data for more major cities like Chicago, New York and Los Angeles? He did. And Jabaley’s findings match up with both Nielsen’s Broadcast Data Systems—the complex, digital behemoth that measures how many times the nation’s largest stations play certain songs—and what are referred to as America’s largest “designated market areas” based on population percentages.
“We broke it down and pulled up the radio spins from each market, but we don’t only rely on radio spins,” Jabaley added. “Radio spins don’t tell you the whole picture. In Atlanta, most people think “Stoner” by Young Thug is the hottest record in the city, because that’s what they’re told everywhere else. Atlanta makes records hot very quickly, but they also move on to other records very quickly. So a month ago, “Stoner” was the hottest club record. But Atlanta has moved on to Young Thug’s “Danny Glover,” and now that’s hotter than “Stoner.”
That means it’s an equal mix of nerdy statistical data and the kind of raw, anecdotal evidence that can only come from relationships with influential tastemakers such as Atlanta’s Aphilliates and Chicago’s DJ Pharris. And that’s why a term like “hottest” is so subjective, but also accurate in this case. Without further long-winded explanation, here are the seven hottest songs in America’s top seven markets.