Billboard Announces New Rule Change to How They'll Compile Their Charts

Billboard announces new changes to the way they'll compile their charts in the future (though the exact date they'll go into effect is yet to be determined) .

Headphones are seen while a music stream downloads.

Image via Getty/krisanapong detraphiphat

Headphones are seen while a music stream downloads.

Acknowledging that the old way wasn't working when it came to accuracy, Billboard has announced that they're changing the rules for how the compile their album/song charts, including the Billboard 200 and the Hot 100. Less vaguely, this means they'll no longer be counting the sales of albums that came as part of a forced ticket bundle. 

As they wrote of this decision:

"The announcement comes in an effort to rectify how sales are counted with respect to album bundles with merchandise and concert tickets, as well as instant digital sales attached to purchases for physical albums delivered at a later date."  

Billboard is changing ticket bundling rules for album charts. "Forced" album + ticket bundles will NO LONGER COUNT. "Opt in" bundles WILL count (users can request to add the album to a ticket purchase).

Details expected Tuesday. Effective for all tours from October 2, 2020 on.

— chart data (@chartdata) July 13, 2020

Billboard will no longer count digital single downloads offered in place of physical products to be mailed at a later date.

This will impact the Hot 100, where it has been used as a tactic to boost chart placement.

— chart data (@chartdata) July 13, 2020

The new bundling rules push out a set of old ones that were put into effect this past January. 

Billboard says that, for the purpose of their charts, they're now completely eliminating the sale of any albums that come with merchandise and concert tickets, because it wasn't properly reflecting the interests of consumers. 

New rules that will be into place "at a start date to be announced" (although you can see the above tweet reference October 2), and those rules will dictate that albums bundled alongside merch/concert tickets have to have the album bought as an optional add-on if they're to be counted towards their charts. That means any artist/band offering only one choice that forces an album on a consumer buying a ticket or merchandise will no longer have that album count.

On top of that (though similar to it), Billboard will no longer be counting digital downloads as "digital sales" if those downloads are packaged with physical albums/singles. They report that they'll only count those towards their charts when the physical item is actually physically shipped.

That means artists/distributors will no longer be able to count pending shipments (that buy time through the offering of digital downloads) to count until they're actually sent out. They cite major artists including: Ariana Grande, 6ix9ine and Justin Bieber as musicians who have recently attempted to boost their first week sales by utilizing this scheme practice. 

These new moves come in response to criticisms that recent charts weren't accurately reflecting what people were actually interested in. It's also an example of the powers that be becoming aware of how artists are trying to game the system. Time to find a new doubt there's a way. 

They acknowledge that bundling albums has been a practice for "decades" while also noting that it's something more artists and labels are doing now to boost sagging album sales. Let it be here, in the last line, that we note that album sales count more on the charts than streams. 

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