January 4, 1936: Billboard magazine publishes its first music hit parade. The magazine was founded on November 1, 1894 by William H. Donaldson and James H. Hennegan. Based out of Cincinnati, Ohio the magazine was originally titled Billboard Advertising and was a trade paper for the bill posting industry. Within just a few years, the magazine began carrying news about outdoor amusements, since this was a major purchaser of billboard space. It became the newspaper for circuses, carnivals, fairs, and other outdoor live entertainment. In 1909 it began covering movies and in 1920 added radio.
The juke box was invented in the 1930s and this caused another change for the magazine. They began to publish music charts but at first it was only in three different categories: Pop, Rhythm & Blues, and Country & Western. By the 1950s another section was added and the magazine began to also cover television. In 1961, the outdoor amusement section was spun off and a new business was started, Amusement Business. At about the same time, television portion was also spun off into its own publication.
On this date, the first hit parade was published and on July 20, 1940 the first Music Popularity Chart was calculated. The first lists were the top ten hits of the week. In 1958 the list was expanded to the Hot 100. These top hits were calculated based on single sales and radio airplay. From 1961 to 2005, Billboard was strictly concerned with the music industry. Beginning in 2005, they magazine and its associated web presence began to cover all forms of digital and mobile entertainment.
For decades, the top 40 songs were presented weekly on a syndicated radio program. The top hits were played from number 40 backwards and ended with the number one song of the week. Casey Kasem and later Shadoe Stevens were hosts of the program. Today, there are over 100 weekly charts presented at Billboard.com. [There is also a business to business website at Billboard.biz.] The most popular list remains the Hot 100 and is joined by Billboard 200 and Hot 100 Airplay. The concern has also published several books about the music industry.
“Music is part of us, and either ennobles or degrades our behaviour.” – Boethius
“It is interesting to try to spot what is going on in society at large by looking at what musicians are creating.” – Kirk Hammett
“A painter paints his pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence. We provide the music, and you provide the silence.” – Leopold Stokowski
“Too many pieces of music finish too long after the end.” – Igor Stravinsky