Thursday, May 30, 2013

HERC's Toolbox: TUNECASTER [online popular music encyclopedia]

The interwebtube can be a daunting, distracting thing: so much information on so many things presented in so, so many ways.  That's why it's so nice when you find a useful site, you can bookmark it and visit it as needed.  HERC stumbled upon TUNECASTER a few years ago and he visits it often, sometimes for research and sometimes just for fun.
Tunecaster was launched in 2002 to provide a public archive of the Pop Top 20 from 1974, the Rock Top 20 from 1979, and for current charts. Since then, the website has expanded into a popular music encyclopedia. We also created an archive of pop music charts going back to 1960, compiling information from many primary sources.
For HERC's research purposes, the TUNECASTER site is an easily navigated chart archive, adding another dimension to Joel Whitburn's or Fred Bronson's well-documented coverage of the Billboard charts.  The Tunecaster chart methodology is proprietary as explained below.
Charts are based mostly on radio airplay, requests for play, streaming radio, and downloads. To be included in the compilation, information must come from a primary content source such as a radio station or a streaming site, not from an aggregate or compiled source. Sources must be specifically in the pop or rock genre. 
While the exact formula has been adjusted over time as conditions change, the methodology remains consistent: keep the focus on the hottest pop and rock music for those who specifically listen to pop and rock radio or internet radio. See for yourself. Find the periods where you listened to pop or rock radio, and look at those weekly charts. Are those the songs you remember? 

David Teesee aka Dave Tunecaster (see what he did there?) is the man behind the curtain and HERC completely respects his need for anonymousness, as well his data gathering and processing prowess.  He maintains two Tunecaster blogs [one on Blogger and one on Wordpress] and recently, Dave devised a mathematical way to compare songs from different eras (he calls it Tunecaster Harmony) and published his "objectively selected" list of The Top 1000 Rock Songs of the 1980s.  (Spoiler alert: the top song is Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2")
Tunecaster Harmony. 

New for 2013. Comparing the relative popularity of songs over time can be a difficult task. How do you weigh songs from a year where there are 200 top 20 songs with songs from a year where there are only 100? The answer is, in a word, mathematics. Songs are compared to contemporary songs, assigned Harmony scores, then compared with songs from other time periods. All songs receive equal and objective treatment. The Harmony system is used for annual charts, decade charts, individual artist top hit lists, and anywhere that songs are compared over time.

The TUNECASTER site also features specialized lists (Christmas, colors, One Hit Wonders, etc.), artist discography pages and a Number One Song Calendar (you know, what was the #1 song when....?) and nearly every song listed has Grooveshark, You Tube and Download (purchase) links.  The longevity of the site - more than 10 years - is but one testament to its usefulness.  The recent expansion of the charts and archives from a weekly Top 20 to a weekly Top 30 as well as increasing the yearly charts from 40 songs to 100 songs has only made it even more essential in obtaining a better perspective of what songs were being played on pop and rock radio stations at any point in the time over the last six decades.

HERC often uses TUNECASTER in conjunction with the misnamed pop music oriented Rock On The Net to supplement the widely available Billboard chart information.

What are your preferred music references?  Let HERC know in the comments.

5 comments:

  1. Thank you very much for the review.

    Many musical references are on bookshelves. When I am looking for good, accurate data online, I like to go to 45cat.com, discogs.com, ebay.com, and amazon.com.

    These sites are great places to find primary source materials and to make sure song information is correct.

    Dave

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  2. Ladies and gentlemen, the man behind Tunecaster, Mr. David Teesee!

    Thanks for dropping by The Hideaway and offering up some of your preferred references. As you may have noticed, HERC is a big fan of your site.

    Any other special projects in the works? Another Top 1000 List wouldn't go unappreciated...

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  3. A long time has passed since the 80's rock 1000 was posted. Yes, it's time to post top 1000 charts for all decades. I resumed by posting 1990s rock here. 2000s will be next. Then, all the pop decades. I will see that they are all posted this summer. Watch the wordpress site.

    Further expansions are in the works. Details will come.

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  4. For those of you playing along at home...

    TUNECASTER's Top 1001 Rock Songs of the 1990s

    ...it's a work in progress...

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  5. Tunecaster is the best!!! They offer both pop and Rock Charts plus a look at 1 hit wonders etc... If you are a music buff you will love Tunecaster and all that it has to offer. Like I say You will get lost in all the wonderful stuff that it has. The first time I spent hours looking at the site.. It is that Good!!!

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