Billboard revealed Monday that it has changed its rules for how artists’ placement on the Billboard 200, the Billboard Hot 100, and other album and song charts will be tabulated. Per the announcement, Billboard will reportedly “eliminate the practice of counting albums bundled with merchandise and concert tickets on its album and song charts altogether.”
It’s currently common practice for artists to sell digital copies of their albums rolled into merchandise or ticket purchases. Late last year, Billboard had sought to limit the impact of that bundling by requiring musicians to make their albums available individually, sell merchandise for a lower price if sold separately, and make bundles available only on their official website.
Billboard admits that those previously established regulations, which took affect January 3, “have fallen short of the intended goal of accurately reflecting consumer intent.” Now, albums “must be promoted as an add-on” to be purchased with merchandise or tickets, rather than available alongside merch or tickets for a single price “with the album cost undisclosed to the consumer.”
Billboard will also no longer immediately count physical albums or singles when they are sold paired a digital copy of the same material; only when the physical item is manufactured and shipped will the purchase be added to the album’s chart count. While they have yet to announce the start date of the new changes, the outlet says, “The new guidelines will better ensure that Billboard chart rankings more accurately reflect the conscious purchasing decisions of consumers and level the playing field for all artists.”