Billboard 200 Album Chart To Include Streaming & Digital Track Sales
by HENRY MANSELL
The Billboard 200 albums chart is set to begin incorporating on-demand streaming and digital track sales in an attempt to paint a more detailed picture of music consumption. This makes Billboard the first chart to include such metrics and marks the chart’s largest upgrade since Billboard first starting using Nielsen’s SoundScan to measure album sales over 23 years ago, in May of 1991.
According to a story published in Billboard, the chart’s makeover will open with data from Thanksgiving Week which ends on November 30.
Vice President of charts and data development at Billboard Silvio Pietroluongo recently spoke on the addition, calling it a greater illustration of music consumption.
“Adding streaming information makes the chart a better representation of music consumption activity,” says Silvio Pietroluongo. “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.”
Industry benchmarks for digital and streaming data will be utilized in the revamped chart. Ten digital track sales from an album will be equated to one equivalent album sale, and 1,500 song streams from an album will be equated to one equivalent album sale. It’s also reported that all of the major on-demand audio subscription services, including Spotify, Beats Music, Google Play and Xbox Music, will be incorporated.
Billboard Chart Change “Is A Welcome Improvement”
Jim Urie, the President/CEO of Universal Music Distribution, calls the addition a “welcome improvement” to Billboard’s chart.
“Including streaming information is the next step in the evolution of the industry’s accurate measurement of music consumption,” he says. “Streaming is the fastest growing configuration we now have and having it included in Billboard’s chart is a welcome improvement.”
The site reports that Ariana Grande and Maroon 5 are among the list of current artists set to benefit from the addition as their streaming and digital song sales have been outperforming their album sales in recent weeks.
Executive Vice President of U.S. Sales and Distribution for Sony Music Entertainment Darren Stupak spoke about the growth of music consumption, calling the new metrics a necessary evolution to Billboard’s album chart data.
“The new methodology for the Billboard 200 is a welcome and necessary evolution of Nielsen and Billboard’s album chart data,” he says. “The ways in which fans consume music, and the ways in which music is monetized, have grown beyond the traditional metrics of album sales. Music consumption in today’s marketplace is a diverse mix of access and acquisition, including on-demand streaming, track and album downloading, and physical product purchasing. The introduction of this expanded scope chart brings the Billboard 200 more closely in line with the multi-platform, multi-format experience of music fans.”
Despite the incorporation of streaming and digital track sales, the traditional style of a pure album sales chart, titled the Top Album Sales, will be still be published by Billboard. This chart will use the traditional metrics of Nielsen’s sales data exclusively. The existing genre album charts, including Country, R&B/Hip Hop, will also remain sale-based for now.