This morning Twitter and Billboard launched a real-time music chart, measuring music shared on the social network.
Not corporate enough for you? McDonald's is a leading sponsor.
Now, putting aside that Billboard is the literal embodiment of the power of commercialism in music, this is some pretty interesting use of data. Billboard/Twitter calculates the number of shares a song gets in an hour and compares it against the last hourly average for shares. It can notice a song just from text in a tweet (but this probably only for Top 40 music — Twitter likely recognizes the plain text "Royals" far better than "Hotel"), but has a better shot at counting the tweet if it mentions the artist's handle and includes a link to the song.
The result is real-time charts of what Twitter is listening to. Although right now it's only counting what's being shared in the United States.
The closest thing to an indie chart is the "emerging artists" field, where artists with less than 50,000 followers are counted. Here you'll find Sharon Van Etten, Baths and Mac DeMarco among the 'emergers.' You can then stream the charting music on their partner Spotify (again, U.S. only). Will these charts have more value than than corporate PR? Probably, and not just in boosting Spotify's clout while it faces controversy over its royalty rates. But this is a pretty promising tool to peek into the world's listening habits, even if it's just through one medium. It lets you see, up-to-the-minute, aggregate taste in music, unmitigated by pop radio. It continues the trend of traffic as currency.