Chart Watch

Chart Watch Extra: 40 Digital Song Milestones

Chart Watch

The Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" this week becomes the first song to top the 6 million mark in paid downloads. The song has sold 6,018,000 copies in 59 weeks, which averages out to 102,000 copies every single week. That's a remarkable achievement.

As it happens, the Peas also had the first song to top the 500,000 mark in paid downloads. "Let's Get It Started" reached that milestone in February 2005. The gulf between these two tallies, in a little less than 5-1/2 years, shows the tremendous growth that has transpired in the digital song field.

Here are 40 key milestones in that growth. You may wonder how it is that I have exactly 40 milestones and not, say, 38 or 43. Let's just say I didn't grow up listening to American Top 43.

June 29, 2003-Billboard introduces its first weekly Digital Tracks chart. The #1 track that week: "Crazy In Love" by Beyonce featuring Jay-Z. The amazing part is the paltry total the track sold that week: just 1,500 copies.

Oct. 27, 2004-OutKast's "Hey Ya!" becomes the first song to sell 400,000 digital copies.

Jan. 2, 2005-"Drop It Like It's Hot" by Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell sets a new record for one-week digital sales (58,000).

Jan. 9, 2005-Billboard drops the Digital Tracks chart from its print edition and replaces it with a Digital Songs chart. The difference is that the Songs chart combines all different versions of a song by one artist. The Tracks chart lists them separately.

Feb. 20, 2005-The Black Eyed Peas' "Let's Get It Started" becomes the first song to sell 500,000 digital copies.

April 24, 2005-Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" sets a new record for one-week digital sales (58,000). Two weeks later, it sets another new record (62,000).

Sept. 4, 2005-"Gold Digger" by Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx sets a new record for one-week digital sales (81,000).

Oct. 9, 2005-"Hollaback Girl" becomes the first song to sell 1 million digital copies.

Dec. 18, 2005-Mariah Carey becomes the first artist to have the top two digital hits the same week. "Don't Forget About Us" is #1, followed by her holiday perennial "All I Want For Christmas Is You.''

Jan. 1, 2006-D4L's "Laffy Taffy" sets a new record for one-week digital sales (175,000).

June 4, 2006-"Hips Don't Lie" by Shakira featuring Wyclef Jean sets a new record for one-week digital sales (267,000).

Sept. 3, 2006-"SexyBack" by Justin Timberlake featuring Timbaland becomes the first song to top 200,000 in weekly digital sales twice.

Dec. 31, 2006-Daniel Powter's "Bad Day" becomes the first song to sell 2 million digital copies.

Dec. 31, 2006-"Fergalicious" by Fergie featuring will.i.am sets a new record for one-week digital sales (295,000).

June 10, 2007-"Umbrella" by Rihanna featuring Jay-Z becomes the first song to top 200,000 in weekly digital sales three times.

Dec. 30, 2007-"Low" by Flo Rida featuring T-Pain sets a new record for one-week digital sales (467,000).

Jan. 6, 2008-Soulja Boy Tell'em's "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" becomes the first song to sell 3 million digital copies.

June 29, 2008-"Low" becomes the first song to sell 4 million copies.

Oct. 26, 2008-Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" becomes the first song that was released prior to the dawn of the digital era (a.k.a. "oldie") to top the 2 million mark in paid downloads. The arena-rock anthem was first released in 1981.

Dec. 28, 2008-"Live Your Life" by T.I. featuring Rihanna becomes the first song to top 300,000 in weekly digital sales twice.

Feb. 15, 2009-Flo Rida's "Right Round" sets a new record for one-week digital sales (636,000). The record still stands. The following week, it becomes the first song to reach the 1 million mark in just two weeks.

March 1, 2009-"Right Round" becomes the first song to top 300,000 in weekly digital sales three times. The following week, it becomes the first song to top that milestone four times.

March 15, 2009-"Right Round" tops the 2 million mark in paid downloads in its fifth week, faster than any other song in digital history.

April 5, 2009-The Black Eyed Peas' "Boom Boom Pow" sells 465,000 copies in its first week. That's still the record for one-week sales by an ongoing group or duo.

June 21, 2009-"Low" becomes the first song to sell 5 million digital copies.

June 28, 2009-In the wake of his death, Michael Jackson has six of the top 10 songs on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Thriller" at #2. He has 49 of the top 200 (counting hits with the Jackson 5 and later the Jacksons).

Aug. 16, 2009-Coldplay becomes the first act that emanates from outside of the U.S. to have a song top the 4 million mark in paid downloads. The English band scores with its smash "Viva La Vida."

Aug. 23, 2009-Journey's inexhaustible "Don't Stop Believin'" becomes the first oldie to top the 3 million mark in paid downloads.

Sept. 6, 2009-"Boom Boom Pow" tops the 4 million mark in paid downloads in its 23rd week, faster than any other song in digital history. It's also the first song in digital history to sell 4 million copies in a calendar year. It winds up selling 4,762,000 copies in 2009.

Sept. 13, 2009-Lady Gaga becomes the first artist to have reached the 4 million mark with two hits. She scores with "Poker Face." Her breakthrough smash "Just Dance" (featuring Colby O'Donis) reached the milestone in May. On June 20, 2010, she becomes the first artist to have hit the 4 million mark with three hits.

Nov. 1, 2009-Taylor Swift's "Love Story" becomes the first country hit to top the 4 million mark in paid downloads.

Dec. 27, 2009-Ke$ha's "TiK ToK" sells 610,000 copies. That's still the record for one-week sales by a female solo artist.

Feb. 14, 2010-The Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" tops the 5 million mark in paid downloads in its 36th week, faster than any other song in digital history.

March 14, 2010-Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" tops the 5 million mark in paid downloads. The mellow, folkie ballad is the least commercial song to reach this commercial milestone. The other songs at this level are all dance, hip hop or harder-edged pop.

May 16, 2010-Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" becomes the first (non-rap) R&B hit to top the 4 million mark in paid downloads.

June 27, 2010-Eminem becomes the first artist to have reached 300,000 in weekly sales with three different songs. "Love The Way You Lie," his collaboration with Rihanna, follows "Crack A Bottle," his collabo with Dr. Dre and 50 Cent, and "Not Afraid."

June 27, 2010-Miley Cyrus, 17, becomes the youngest artist to have a song top the 4 million mark in paid downloads. She achieves the feat with her hit "Party In The U.S.A."

July 18, 2010-Tracks from Lady Gaga's debut album The Fame Monster surpass 25 million in combined sales. (Here's a link to a Chart Watch Extra on this record-setting achievement that ran last week.)

July 25, 2010-"California Gurls" by Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg reaches the 3 million mark in just 11 weeks. This ties "Right Round" for the fastest march to 3 million in digital history.

July 25, 2010-"I Gotta Feeling" becomes the first song to sell 6 million digital copies.

That brings us up to date. Of course, timelines never really end. Next week, "Love The Way You Lie" may well become the first song ever to top 300,000 in weekly digital sales five times. Will it do it? Check my regular Chart Watch column on Wednesday and find out.

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