Posted by: Debra Alexander / wordmavenmusic | April 6, 2012

How to Get Online Access to Billboard Magazine–for free

The Librarians are back, and our libraries are open again in Toronto following a city-wide strike.  In celebration of our great library system, I thought I’d focus this blog on one of a myriad things a songwriter can take advantage of at the Toronto Public Library, aka our beloved TPL.

Songwriters these days are not just songwriters. Eric Beall’s “This Year’s Model”  should be required reading for every songwriter who dreams of earning an income from placing songs. In it, he says, “Every music creator has to be in the entertainment business, not just the music biz.” In the last three months, I have heard Canadian music publishers from Ole, EMI, and Warner/Chappell echo exactly what Eric outlines in this article.

It’s not a bad idea to keep your finger on the pulse of the music business, and one good way to do that is by reading the trade magazines. Billboard is one of the best known, and following is a tutorial on how to access Billboard for free via the TPL’s online databases.

1. Sign in to the TPL online with your library card number and password.

2. In the section called “Find Your Way,” click on “Articles and online research.”

3. On the bottom left, select “Online Magazine And Newspaper Title Search.”

4. Beneath “Find magazines, newspapers or journals by title or ISSN,” type “Billboard” in the search box.

5. Click on your very first choice in the list: “Academic OneFile.”  I haven’t noticed many differences in the choices, and I’ve had good luck with this one.

6. Select the most current issue, and you’re in.

All the articles are numbered. Scan the article titles to get a sense of what’s currently in the news. There are many pages, and of course, check out anything of particular interest. About half way through the pages, the charts start to appear. Of particular note is “The Billboard Hot 100” because it’s a behind the scenes look at the hits, citing only the producer and the songwriter(s), and not the artist. It is, in fact, one of the few charts where songwriter(s) are recognized. Also, many genres are represented here. You can view artists and labels on the “Hot 100 Airplay Chart.”

I like to check Billboard, review the Mediabase and BDSRadio charts, and listen to various countdowns on Sunday mornings.

Compare the online magazine to the Billboard website, and be glad you have a Toronto Public Library card! Billboard is pretty expensive if you want to buy it from a newsstand, especially in Canada.

Having lived in the states in Nashville, Austin, and New York, before the time of online library catalogues, I’m not aware if you can get online access to Billboard via US city libraries now.

Let me know if you read Billboard!



  1. You are my fave source for tips and resources! Awesome! Thanks yoooooou! I WILL read Billboard! 🙂

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