Billboard Is Changing How It Counts Streams

Paid streams now count more than ad-supported ones. Apologies to those who really like Spotify ads.

Beatles Spotify

In this photo illustration, A computer showing the Spotify website announcing the Beatles music collection is available for streaming online on December 24, 2015 in London, England. The Beatles' music catalogue is being made available today, Christmas Eve on a wide range of streaming music services worldwide.

Beatles Spotify

Towards the end of a week in which streaming dominated the music business conversation thanks to a controversial YouTube video put up by Post Malone's label that may have helped his song reach the No. 1 spot on the Hot 100, Billboard has announced they are changing how their influential charts deal with streaming.

In a long statement released on Thursday, Billboard explained it all. On their Hot 100 singles chart, they used to treat all on-demand streams (Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music, etc.) the same, and what they call "programmed" streams—from online radio stations like Pandora, where the song was chosen by the service itself, rather than the listener—counted less. The Billboard 200 album chart only counted on-demand streams, weighing them all equally, but it excluded video views. 

So what's changing? Well, in an attempt to "better reflect[] the varied user activity occurring on these services," the charts will now divide on-demand streams up into two different categories. For the singles chart, plays that happen on paid services like Apple Music, or from users who have a paid subscription to a service like Spotify or SoundCloud, will be weighed more heavily than streams on free services like YouTube, or from free accounts on services that also offer paid options.

The album chart will have a similar deal—"subscription-supported" streams will count more than ad-supported ones—but video plays will still be excluded.  

No matter what happens with these changes next year, one thing seems certain—Tyler, the Creator will likely have something to say about it.

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