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News: Billboard 200 Album Chart to Incorporate Streams & Track Sales

Billboard

Billboard is making a few changes in the way they track music sales and more. They will now be incorporating digital track sales and on-demand streams in their album charts. Take a look below at how they are explaining the new way they are keeping up with the digital music world.

The Billboard 200 albums chart will premiere its biggest upgrade in more than 23 years, transforming from a pure sales-based ranking to one measuring multi-metric consumption.

Beginning with the top 10 revealed on Wednesday, Dec. 3, on Billboard.com (the full chart will post online the following day and in the Billboard issue dated Dec. 13), the chart, which currently tracks the top 200 albums of the week by sales alone, will be the first to include on-demand streaming and digital track sales (as measured by Nielsen Entertainment) by way of a new algorithm. It is the most substantial methodology update since May 1991, when Billboard first used Nielsen’s point-of-sale data — SoundScan — to measure album sales.

The revamped chart will premiere with data from Thanksgiving week (ending Nov. 30), one of the most active music release periods of the year. The new methodology aims to provide a better sense of an album’s popularity by reflecting not just sales, but consumption activity.

The updated Billboard 200 will utilize accepted industry benchmarks for digital and streaming data, equating 10 digital track sales from an album to one equivalent album sale, and 1,500 song streams from an album to one equivalent album sale. All of the major on-demand audio subscription services are considered, including Spotify, Beats Music, Google Play and Xbox Music. Current artists likely to benefit from this change in methodology include Ariana Grande, Hozier and Maroon 5, among others, as their streaming and digital song sales have been outperforming their album sales in recent weeks.

“Adding streaming information makes the chart a better representation of music consumption activity,” says Silvio Pietroluongo, VP of charts and data development at Billboard. “While an extremely valuable measurement, album sales would mostly capture the initial impulse only, without indicating the depth of consumption thereafter. Someone could listen to the album just once, or listen to one track or a number of tracks 100 times. We are now able to incorporate those plays as part of an album consumption ranking throughout one’s possession of an album, extending beyond the initial purchase or listen.”

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