What Is Chart Music?

Madonna is one artist who has spent a considerable amount of time at the top of the charts.

"Chart music" is a term that pops up a lot in discussions about music, but not everyone is sure what it means. In fact, the meaning of chart music has changed and evolved over the years as music charts have changed and evolved. There are some basic truths in the definition of chart music, however, which are outlined below. And once you know what exactly chart music is, why not download some free chart music for yourself? Page down to find out where you can get some great free chart music downloads.

Defining Chart Music

Chart music, in a nutshell, is popular music. The music charts set out the most popular songs and album, in order of their "popularity"; in other words, the best selling album and single each week are at the number 1 position in the charts, and so on. Though the music charts were not originally designed to be focus exclusively on rock music, chart music has become inexorably linked with rock music, and now, "chart music" is another way of describing commercial pop music.

Commercial pop music is not the only kind of music that is tracked via a music chart, but the best known charts are dedicated to pop music. The US Pop music chart, the Billboard Music Chart, is perhaps the most recognized chart in the world. The weekly Billboard chart was first launched in June, 1940, but the chart as most of us know it, the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, did not begin until 1958. A Sunday morning radio program, the Weekly Top 40, which counts down the 40 most popular singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, helped increase public knowledge about the charts, in turn making the music charts more important.

Billboard's Hot 100 charts the top selling albums and singles across all genres based on a combination of radio play and sales, and as such, the Hot 100 is made up of mainstream songs that get a lot of radio play and have a lot of listener recognition. Billboard also has specific charts for other genres of music, such as Country, Dance, and Hip Hop. These charts reflect the top sellers within the specific genres of music and so have a tendency to include both big "crossover" hits that might make it to the Hot 100 charts as well as more "off the beaten track" songs from popular artist within the genre who may lack mainstream appeal.

While the Billboard charts are extremely powerful, they are not the only music charts in business. Most countries have some kind of music chart, with the UK music chart and Australian music chart being especially prominent. Likewise, there are many independent music charts of all genres which calculate chart positions in a variety of ways.

Hitting the Charts

The different chart companies put many restrictions on eligibility for entrance to the charts, which is a very controversial subject within the music industry. The requirements differ from chart to chart, but most of them involve things like song length, number of songs on a single, and whether or not the CD has a scannable bar code on the sleeve.

Download Free Chart Music

The following websites are filled to the brim with free music to download, whether you're after the mainstream, Hot 100 variety of chart music, or you want music from a genre specific chart:

  • Download.com - With 75,000 free downloads, and counting, it's hard to see how you could go wrong on Download.com.
  • Amazon.com - Not just for paying customers anymore, Amazon has a good selection of free music across the spectrum of genres.
  • MTV - OK, sure, you might not have even realized that MTV is in the music business anymore based on their programming, but their website is a surprisingly thorough resource for music info, include tons of free downloads from the latest hit artists.


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What Is Chart Music?