‘Billboard’ Changes Chart Methods Regarding Merch And Ticket Bundles

Billboard has changed the rules regarding its Billboard 200, Hot 100 and other album and song charts and decided to eliminate the practice of counting albums bundled with merchandise and concert tickets on its album and song charts altogether.

On the issue of bundling, the latest rule changes supersede a number of others that were previously instituted in January, including a requirement that albums bundled with merchandise be available for purchase concurrently and individually on the same website, as well as a requirement that merchandise sold on its own be priced lower than bundles that included the album. Additionally, merchandise/album bundles could only be sold on an artist’s official direct-to-consumer web store and not via third-party sites.

In an acknowledgement that those measures have fallen short in accurately reflecting consumer intent, Billboard eliminated the practice of counting albums bundled with merchandise and concert tickets on its album and song charts altogether.

The new rules will be implemented at a start date to be announced, and under them all albums bundled with either merchandise or concert tickets must be promoted as an add-on to those purchases in order to be counted on the charts. Those included as part of a baked-in, single-price option (along with the merchandise or ticket), with the album cost undisclosed to the consumer, will no longer be counted.

In addition, Billboard will no longer allow sales of physical albums or singles bundled with digital downloads to be reported as digital sales, thereby eliminating the practice of “spontaneous” non-manufactured items being used to influence first-week chart rankings. Only when the physical item or what the consumer is buying is shipped, will it be counted in Billboard’s official tallies.

The practice of selling vinyl, CDs and other physical releases that won’t be manufactured and shipped to consumers for weeks or months—while offering a digital download that can be redeemed instantly has become popular practice to help boost chart positions and the rule changes will render that ineffective. Billboard hopes that the new guidelines will better ensure that chart rankings more accurately reflect the conscious purchasing decisions of consumers and level the playing field for all artists.

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About the Author

Hollabaugh, a staff writer at MusicRow magazine, has written for publications including American Profile, CMA Close Up, Nashville Arts And Entertainment, The Boot and Country Weekly. She has a Broadcast Journalism and Speech Communication degree from Texas Christian University, (go Horned Frogs), and welcomes your feedback or story ideas at [email protected]

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