Bret Michaels on the cover of Billboard's Maximum Exposure issue, which he landed because he was on a highly-rated reality show, not because of his participation in the creation or execution of any particular piece of music. Still, he's famous and rich. Which is the point of this list, just so we're clear.
The cover story in this week's Billboard magazine is the annual Maximum Exposure list, which (other than being an excuse for the magazine to make the terrible decision to put a naked Bret Michaels on the cover) is the magazine's accounting of the "100 Best Ways To Get Your Music Seen And Heard."
You have to subscribe to the magazine or its online component to get the full list, but the top 25 strategies are available for free at Billboard.biz. Most of the items at the top of the list (#24: Album Displayed at Starbucks Counter, #8: Performance on Saturday Night Live, #2: Synch Placement in a TV Ad for Apple, etc.) are variations on the "Success breeds success" line that shows up in the notes to help explain #9: Single/Album Charting on iTunes.
Which makes the list, though framed as if to help musicians get their work to the ears of new listeners, more of a tool for journalists ("The 100 best ways to explain the chart success of artists who you started paying attention to when they unexpectedly sold a bunch more records than you figured they would") or record label employees ("The 100 top ideas for breaking a new single by latest band signed to your label that you can crib during the brainstorming lunch with your boss").
Curious: Support from critics, journalists or other writers just isn't that helpful. According to the "label and publishing executives, publicists, managers and branding experts" Billboard questioned, getting a four-star review in Rolling Stone, a Best New Music designation from Pitchfork, or a feature story in the New York Times can't shift as many units as getting your song performed on Glee. (Pitchfork and NPR are both mentioned on the magazine's cover and presumably show up somewhere in the list's bottom 75. Also, Oprah counts as a television show, like Gossip Girl or Glee, not as a journalistic institution, just to nip that argument in the bud.)
No big surprise there, just a twinge of sadness from this side of the music writer battle lines.