UPDATED Oct. 18, 1:48 p.m. ET: After several reports about Republic Records' unusual YouTube video for his song "Rockstar," Post Malone seemed to respond to the controversy on Twitter. "Whenever you live your dreams everyone wants to try to take it away from you," he wrote late Tuesday night.
Original story below:
This week's Billboard Hot 100 chart shows Post Malone's smash "Rockstar" sitting at No. 1. The song has plenty to like, including a 21 Savage feature and lyrical shout-outs to original AC/DC frontman Bon Scott and the Doors' Jim Morrison (though, if Malone watched the movie, he'd realize that guitarist Robbie Kreiger, not Jim, actually wrote "Light My Fire").
But, as pointed out by Fader, the song may have had some help in getting to the top spot, thanks to an interesting move on the part of what appears to be Republic Records. An account that looks like the official Republic channel—it's not verified by YouTube, but hosts exclusively Republic artist releases, the label's account has tweeted videos from the account, and has 100,000 subscribers—posted a video to YouTube that, at first glance, appears to be "Rockstar." It is, to the second, the exact length of the finished song, and is billed as "Post Malone feat. 21 Savage - rockstar." But when you click on the video, it is only the hook of the song, repeated over and over.
In the description of the video, there is a link to hear the song on your streaming service of choice. The video has been played (or accessed) nearly 42 million times. Presumably a portion of the 42 million who accessed the video ended up clicking through to stream it somewhere else, which would have helped the song on its way to No. 1.
So why go through all this trouble to move would-be YouTube viewers over to streaming services? While Republic has yet to comment, it's easy to speculate. Streaming counts heavily towards the Hot 100. While the exact formula for the singles chart changes week to week, streaming is generally accounts for between 20-30 percent of what counts on the chart (the other two-thirds or so comes from sales and radio play). So, steering people towards playing the song on Spotify or Apple Music, after having played the track on YouTube, gives the song multiple streams, as opposed to the single stream that a lone YouTube play would rack up. YouTube views count towards the Hot 100, although for less than a stream, and have for the past several years.