The song Differentology by Ian "Bunji Garlin" Alvarez is not the second most downloaded song on iTunes internationally, as many were led to believe on Tuesday by posts on social media Web sites and mainstream media. A photo of the iTunes Top Singles chart showing Differentology as the number two most popular download appeared on Twitter.
The chart also included Rihanna's Diamonds and Maroon 5's One More Night, leading many to believe these were international statistics. Bunji's publicists were among those who misunderstood the figures and put out a release on Monday claiming his tune was No 2 in the world.
Consumers use iTunes, an electronic music service created by Apple, to download music, movies and e-books. It uses geolocation software that reads Internet Protocol (IP) addresses on computers and a Global Positioning System (GPS) on smartphones to provide data on where users are. The chart accessed by users in T&T is compiled in this way from statistics on local downloads, not the entire world.
Words of congratulations for being "number two in the world" poured in for Alvarez on Tuesday, however. In a telephone interview with the T&T Guardian Alvarez said he was correcting people on Twitter. In one such tweet, responding to a local media house, Alvarez said: "We figured it out. iTunes sees your IP address and gives you the tops in your country and region. That way visitors know the songs."
T&T Guardian technology columnist Mark Lyndersay when contacted said that confusion with the top singles chart was common because of the way Apple had historically been forced to do business. He added: "Apple has online stores for every country it does business with and the content of each store is slightly different depending on what publishers allow.
"But while each store benefits from the technology of all the other stores, it's effectively a stand-alone entity to the customer who logs into a single zoned store." Since word spread of Differentology's success, iTune users will now see that the song has moved to number one on the chart.
On another electronic music Web site, TrinidadTunes.com, Differentology is number eight on the week's top songs chart. Meanwhile, on the video-sharing Web site YouTube.com, Differentology has garnered more than 113,000 plays. Jarrod Sarai, executive producer of Differentology, said statistics for the number of times Differentology has been downloaded on iTunes will not be available until March.
"They do a payout every quarter, so we wouldn't know. We won't see all that data until about March, since the song only went up like last week," he said. Alvarez said although the number of downloads was encouraging, the "emotional responses trumped all monetary gain." He also said locally there was a misunderstanding of what attaining international success really meant.
He added: "What is considered international? A lot of us have the concept that when you see the music on MTV and BET, then it is international. But what we do is international anyway. "We get muffled into this smoke because we not seeing it on certain media streams. "We just came back from Germany Carnival and the streets were rammed out and soca was the order of the day."