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Billboard shakes up charts to include digital, streaming data

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Billboard shook up its singles charts for country, Latin and hip-hop music on Thursday by including digital download sales and streaming data from services like Spotify, Rhapsody and others in its weekly rankings.

The move follows Billboard's decision earlier this year to incorporate the fast-growing digital market into the Hot 100 singles chart, which includes all music genres.

In addition, Billboard said in a statement it has launched a new chart for R&B songs that will use the same hybrid formula and will separate R&B from rap or hip-hop singles.

Billboard uses data provided by Nielsen SoundScan to compile its weekly chart of the top albums and singles in dozens of different categories.

The new system reflects a more inclusive approach to compiling the most popular singles in the United States.

In the past, the charts for Latin, R&B and country singles have been determined mainly by air play on radio stations that play music exclusively in respective genre.

From Thursday, airplay data will be compiled from more than 1,200 radio stations across the United States under a formula that recognizes and rewards cross-over artists, such as country-pop singer Taylor Swift.

"With digital downloads hitting record highs and streaming services such as Spotify, Muve, Slacker, Rhapsody, Rdio, MOG, Sony Music Unlimited and Xbox Music continuing to grow, the impact of digital music is growing more and more pronounced," Jim Donio, president of the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM), said in a statement.

"We are happy to see that Billboard recognizes this trend and is taking steps to ensure that its charts will continue to serve as the industry standard well into the future," Donio said. (Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bill Trott)

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