Billboard to introduce track downloads and streams on new Albums chart

Billboard has announced some changes in the formula used to calculate the country’s weekly best selling albums.

Starting with the chart reflecting the week ending 11/30 (published by Billboard on December 4 in the December 13 issue of the magazine), downloads and streams of the tracks composing an album will be added to the actual album sales to compile the Billboard 200.

This will be the biggest change to the formula behind the calculation of the chart since the introduction of SoundScan in 1991. According to Silvio Pietroluongo, Billboard’s charts director, this change will more accurately reflect the way listeners consume music today.

He states:

“We were always limited to the initial impulse, when somebody purchased an album, now we have the ability to look at that engagement and gauge the popularity of an album over time.”

This change will obviously cause a big shake-up on the next chart. In an article announcing the change, Billboard provides some examples of how this week’s chart would look like, had this formula already been implemented.

One expected result is that albums by big pop stars — which tend to open high on the chart and then plunge after just a few weeks — should linger longer in the upper rungs. Ariana Grande’s “My Everything,” for example, which opened at No. 1 in September, was No. 36 on last week’s chart, with 10,000 sales. Under the new formula, it would have been No. 9.
The change may hurt artists whose albums are not on streaming services, or are mostly consumed through sales. Barbra Streisand’s “Partners,” for example, opened at No. 1 in September, and on last week’s chart it was still at No. 7, with 28,000 sales. But under Billboard’s new chart rules, it would have fallen to No. 13.

The new formula will count 1,500 streams from music services like Spotify, Google Play, Beats Music, Rdio and Rhapsody as equivalent to the purchase of one copy in a retailer or on a digital service such as Amazon or iTunes. For the first time, they will also count “track equivalent albums,” meaning a common industry yardstick of 10 downloads of individual tracks.


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