Shocking Shake-Up: Billboard 200 Album Chart To Include Streams & Downloads

Published: Wednesday 19th Nov 2014 by Sam

Times really are a’changing.

As was potently spotlighted recently, no album prior to (or other than) Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’ has hit Platinum status in the US this year. Indeed, whichever way it’s diced or sliced, music sales have been wallowing in the mire for several years now and it appears the American industry has had enough.

Today, it has been announced that from next week, the iconic Billboard 200 album chart will be revising its counting formula to include streams and downloads.

The shocking details below…

The New York Times reports:

Billboard and Nielsen SoundScan, the agency that supplies its data, will start adding streams and downloads of tracks to the formula behind the Billboard 200, which, since 1956 has functioned as the music world’s weekly scorecard. It is the biggest change since 1991, when the magazine began using hard sales data from SoundScan, a revolutionary change in a music industry that had long based its charts on highly fudgeable surveys of record stores.

The new chart, covering sales and listening from Monday to Nov. 30, will be revealed on Billboard’s website on Dec. 4 and published in print in its Dec. 13 issue. Silvio Pietroluongo, Billboard’s director of charts, said that by looking at streams as well as sales, the new chart will more accurately reflect how people listen to music these days.

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.

SoundScan and Billboard will count 1,500 song streams from services like Spotify, Beats Music, Rdio, Rhapsody and Google Play as equivalent to an album sale. For the first time, they will also count “track equivalent albums” — a common industry yardstick of 10 downloads of individual tracks — as part of the formula for album rankings on the Billboard 200.

As rational as the reasons for this are, it really does herald the dawn of a new age, one we’re not convinced is entirely fair or representative.

For, we’re in an era where curious listeners can stream tracks of artists they don’t even like for free. Why, then, should that stream be counted towards the “1500” that contributes to one album sale? Like whichever way it’s spun, it’s not an album sale nor anything remotely close.

In measuring the concept fairly though, it can be argued that in previous years consumers could afford to buy LPs of artists they didn’t particularly “like” in a “because I can” capacity – something today’s economy doesn’t allow for en masse.
As such, just like streaming a song one doesn’t care for in the modern era, buying an album just to hear it or critique it back in the day would see the sale still counted regardless. Viewed this way, it’s arguable that the current changes aren’t that drastic.

Yet, from where we’re standing, it’s not so much about how “drastic” the changes are, it’s more how unrepresentative. Put simply, it boils down to intent. When one buys an album, especially in today’s economical climate, it’s by and large because they intend to support the artist. When one streams, it may very well be to listen and slam it online. Why, then, should the latter count towards album sales? It’s preposterous and really runs risk of diluting the importance of Gold and Platinum plaques.

Alas, as the age old adage goes, if there’s one thing that’s a guarantee…it’s change.

Let us know what you think about the new Billboard 200 below!

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  1. Musika November 19, 2014

    I think its a great move. I’ve been following Billboard for many years now and I think its main purpose has been always about promoting music. Without it, people won’t realize all the great albums and songs being released by musicians today. We also need to find ways to combat piracy and that is why streaming & YouTube views are being implemented as well.

    • You tried November 20, 2014

      This going completely against TBT grain! This will b no different than SOUNDCLOUD OR MYSPACE! Streams and downloads! Achievements are achievements and ppl buying ur album is completely different than ppl bootlegging it!

    • You tried November 20, 2014

      But u know what! There will be a lot of popular artist that will too these CHARTS now than before but they will be broke! The labels will throw them out without promo and etc just to sell singles and tour to pay debts and they will get no money from sells

      • You tried November 20, 2014

        Rihanna and her FANS ARE LIKE YESESSSSS! YASS b**** cause we all know they can buy a $1.99 single but can purchase a $8 album SSSSSHHADE


      • You tried November 20, 2014

        I meant they CANT buy a $8 album ssssshhhaade

        Come for me you broke BumNavy

  2. Unbiased November 19, 2014

    I don’t see the issue. Billboard charts are supposed to indicate what the public are listening to. I listen to all my music on spotify and buy an album maybe once or twice a year.

    • wow November 19, 2014

      And this is the issue.

      • Unbiased November 20, 2014

        don’t get me wrong – a while ago when they considered merging streaming and sales certifications, i completely disagree with that.
        However pretending millions of people aren’t streaming albums is living in the 90s.
        I’m a bit iffy about ‘youtube. views’ though.. Legal paid for streaming services, yes.

    • You tried November 20, 2014

      This fool @unbiased said he does purchase his album yet listen to them for free and all though he didn’t say it but he downloads them too I bet! BILLBOARD should respect the industry and not make it so easy for ppl to succeed without working hard at it!

      Lazy artist are already getting by with VEVO VIEWS AND B******* SOCIAL MEDIA AWARDS! Are u kidding me!

      • Unbiased November 20, 2014

        I pay for Spotify
        Stream 95% of my music
        However in the car i keep CDs. Last albums i’ve purchased are ‘Broke With Expensive Taste’ and ‘BEYONCE’.

  3. truthtea November 19, 2014

    The music industry has officially died today!

    • Nessa November 19, 2014

      The industry has BEEN dead. Where have you been?

  4. The Truth Emeritus November 19, 2014

    Bull s***! These new artists have it so easy.

    • AmbeRussell November 20, 2014

      Not really. Artist today can’t open with 50k sold and expect to go plat. Let alone go gold. Artist of yesteryear didnt have to fight high quality bootlegging or illegal downloading, streams etc. artist today have more outlets to have their music heard, so those ways should be counted on a chart. Now not on a album SELLING CHART but maybe on a stamping chart

      • The Truth Emeritus November 20, 2014

        But these new artist get extra promo through social media and other internet mediums. Older artist had nothing but radio and album sales. To book an award show or soul train was huge for them. This will give consumers an even bigger reason to not purchase the artist music.

  5. Kendall November 19, 2014

    They’re just killing the music BUSINESS off bit by bit.

  6. Lilly November 19, 2014

    This will be more fair seeing as how most people are downloading and streaming music these days.

  7. Bey-Minaj November 19, 2014

    And this is where the term ‘closet fan’ comes into play. Why would anyone stream music of an artist they don’t like, unless they are interested in some way in that artist? I think the purpose of this si to show what people are interested in and listen to. Cuz like it or not, if I’m streaming C*********’s music I am interested in some way. Aint no way I’m listening to Li Kim Chow’s music/mixtape unless I’m a closet fan. So haters, don’t forget to stream the Pinkprint on Spotify and other services. Thank you for your future support.

    • RihHive November 20, 2014

      I totally agree. These girls will jam out to the singles and even entire album (in private) for free and not give their coins to support the artist, talking bout “Rih/Bey/Katy will never get my coins” Thank you Billboard… this will truly represent which album is current/HOT

      • King B November 20, 2014

        LMFAO we’v been clockedT

  8. Nicki Is Queen November 19, 2014

    This was bound to happen.. no one is surprised… the industry is a mess and is dying.

    • IGGY INC November 19, 2014


      • Nicki Is Queen November 19, 2014

        but your fav can’t achieve gold despite having a massive hit lol looks like her career is already over

  9. bleeding gums November 19, 2014

    At this rate they’ll be including illegal downloads…. It needs to be accepted that some artists are not popular and that’s why they’re music isn’t selling

    • bleeding gums November 19, 2014

      THEIR *turns off next word prediction*

  10. I hate truth(icki is the QWEEN OF PUSHBACK) November 19, 2014

    This is the final nail in the coffin for Billboards credibility. Over time we’ll get used to it like all the chart changes they’ve done in the past.

  11. Era of Tin November 19, 2014

    Number of Facebook likes and Twitter followers will be added shortly.

    • tits mcgee November 19, 2014

      Yes, lol! Your name says it all tho.

      No platinum, in an era of rusted tin..

  12. Slay_Hive November 19, 2014

    LOL Did Rihanna’s team beg for this contribution?? We all know she slays those vevo streams. The struggle is really real to compete with Bey and Taylor. No wonder she’s waiting to release this album. This is really a mess.

    • datreddone23 November 19, 2014

      You are truly pressed over Rihanna! Like this article had nothing to do with Rihanna and yet your the first person to bring her up? Weren’t you just the one accusing LB of that in the last Bey post hypocite! Smh

      • Slay_Hive November 19, 2014

        Well looks like someone is bothered. I just thought that this horrible idea would work for her. Don’t think she’s ready for the BB200 chart embarrassment.

      • datreddone23 November 19, 2014

        Shes never been embarrassed honey 6 platinum albums says otherwise

  13. tits mcgee November 19, 2014

    At this rate actual sales will count for nothing in a few years.

    These kind of moves are a Band-Aid for a severe, gushing wound..

    The music industry is a officially a joke now.


  14. Slay_hive November 19, 2014

    This is excellent news for flops like Ciara and Kelly Rowland!!!

    • tits mcgee November 19, 2014

      Well the list is long. I know Rita Whora and Nicole Shirziangerriotaer are jumping for joy!

    • DanYiel Teflon November 19, 2014

      I’m a Fan if ALL DC3 Members stop shading Kelendria & MICHELLE!!

  15. Slay_Hive November 19, 2014

    Don’t use my name b****. I like Kelly

  16. loveides November 19, 2014

    Just a mess. So if a song goes viral it would contribute as a sales for both the song and the parent album. So why are there two different charts for albums and songs if they are going to count one thing for two. I would’ve been more reasonable if they counted the number of streams of an album if it’s listened as a whole than just the number of streams for just a particular track in the album. Or they should have just created a different chart, something that Billboard seems to like to do a lot lately. Create a chart for album streams and see how effective it could do before destroying the music industry.

    • SMH November 19, 2014

      That is EXACTLY what they should have done. Created a separate chart for Top Album & Single Streams. Instead of just killing the charts altogether.

  17. DanYiel Teflon November 19, 2014

    I’m still buying albums from artist I support & it’s sad there are fans who CONTINUE TO SUPPORT REAL ARTISTS MUSIC!!

  18. Yea ok November 19, 2014

    These charts don’t mean diddly squat to me. I’m not in the music business and none of y’all got albums out either so why u care so much? More stuff for y’all to be petty and argue about the same things every day on here?

    • bleeding gums November 19, 2014

      We care so much because, if an artist continues to under perform they’re likely to be dropped,if they’re lucky enough to get another contract and that goes belly up they’ll not be signed again which means no more music for the fans. I don’t think this is the way forward but I can’t think of another way for struggling artists to continue in the industry.

      • Yea ok November 19, 2014

        It’s 2014. Do u know how many people who sing and are far better singers than what is constantly pushed in your face today? The internet is full of artists. If someone not signed to a label anymore and they love to sing nothing will stop them from singing even if they are doing it from YouTube and a soundcloud account and u can still listen and support. . Your logic is flawed. Next.

      • bleeding gums November 19, 2014

        Valid point but if that’s the career you want there’s little to no money to be made from putting your music on SoundCloud especially if you’re not getting the exposure from being on a label. No need to be so dismissive

  19. #TeamTinashe Stan “Aquarius” Now In Stores November 19, 2014

    This is sad! Hey people are still going to be looking at the physical and digital bought copies of albums still.

    Anyways back to listening to one of the GREATEST ALBUM MADE, Celine Dion “The Colour Of My Love” 🙂

    • TheElusiveLamb November 20, 2014

      I LOVE that album!

  20. Mark111 November 19, 2014

    So no one should be flopping now? Also, for the ones that saying oh the music bizz is dead. No hooker, you’re just hurt that you can’t stan out anymore. So now the playing field will be more leveled.

    • Tron November 19, 2014

      You act gay as hell on here. F*****’ f*****.

  21. Anthony November 19, 2014

    Death at the “playing field will be more leveled” This just shows how the industry is in shambles. Everyone’s buying singles and streaming now. Beyonce is one of the last artist trying to keep things the way it should be and what it should still really be about, the music.

    • Mark111 November 19, 2014

      Shut up, you’re upset because this won’t help BeyDobe at all cause she can’t sell singles. Your fave will be lefton the dust.

    • SMH November 19, 2014

      Please shut up. beyonce isn’t even on taylor swift’s level when it comes to selling albums so just stop. beyonce might not ever have another hit again with this new system because she can’t sell or stream singles.

      • RihHive November 20, 2014

        sad but true… I cant wait to see where 7/11 peaks on HOT 100 hahahahaha

  22. bleeding gums November 19, 2014

    I just see this as an excuse for labels to not promote their artists to the highest standard.

    • Mark111 November 19, 2014

      They already not doong that. When the highest selling album this year is just 3 million, the old business model is dead. Music is almost worthless amyway. This will help good artist and inde artist the most, since now all of them are selling the same at mayor acts. Plus we see J.No, Jessie J and a few others have huge promo, but at the end, no one wants it. Oh well, make better music.

  23. bleeding gums November 19, 2014

    Global same day releases, digital download avalible days/weeks before physical release and give the public more incentive to purchase like posters, DVD or something like the old days when you would buy multiple singles because they had different covers, tracks and free stuff.its working for the movie industry so why can’t it work for the music industry?

  24. xedos November 19, 2014

    as long as the streaming service is paying the record label it should cpunt. Radio play counts toward the chart and record lable get pay from radio . don’t see why albums should not

  25. xedos November 19, 2014

    This should help the artist. now the record company cannot just pocket the streaming money. now it will be tracked artist will be able to see the data

  26. Barbie’s World™ November 19, 2014

    sadly, this won’t even help some of your favs…

  27. DOSSOME November 19, 2014

    Hahahahahaha…Now artists will be slaying charts but won’t see royalties since streaming is basically free.Jokes all over

    • blue November 19, 2014

      but hopefully the adele effect would help some artists even to some small extent. Basically the longer you stay up there the more curious people become of your work ame maybe buy it. This will hardly change much in the music industry just that labels might put more into promoting that hit song off the album in an attempt to inflate their charting

    • SMH November 19, 2014

      The new system is only counting the paid streaming services.

    • LB November 19, 2014

      The issue of royalties does need to be looked at, but streaming services do pay royalties.

  28. blue November 19, 2014

    you guys do realise that billboards job is not to track sales right? Its job is to show what is popular, and at the end of the day if you have to artists and artist1 sells 5 copies and has 10 streams vs artist2 who does 6 copies and 7 streams, who of the two is most popular? One has 15 people interested in them and the other only 13.

  29. Jay Jay November 19, 2014

    Dang this is sad but at the same time this is good for artists since nowadays you can stream unlimited amount of music – including whole albums- for as low as $10 a month.

    As a consumer I would rather pay $10 a month for streaming music rather than buying singles for $1.29 each or $9.99 for one album.

    I think they need to at change album certifications with this new rule.

    750k – Gold
    1.5 – Platinum

  30. LB November 19, 2014

    It was bound to happen, the way people consume music has changed and basically the way to track how people consume music was bound to change. I don’t see the issue here, basically Billboard is telling Taylor Swift, “get with the times ho”.

    Streaming business model is different from purchasing a CD outright, basically when you buy a music CD, you’re buying a license to listen to someone’s music, with streaming when you pay for the service, you’re paying for access.

    Different business model but outcome is the same, you’re paying for access.

  31. LB November 19, 2014

    @Mark111 should like this part,

    SoundScan and Billboard will count 1,500 song streams from services like Spotify, Beats Music, Rdio, Rhapsody and Google Play as equivalent to an album sale. For the first time, they will also count “track equivalent albums” — a common industry yardstick of 10 downloads of individual tracks — as part of the formula for album rankings on the Billboard 200.

    The real kiiii here is even with album equivalent tracks, Breezy still can’t touch that platinum certification. The shade writes itself

  32. LB November 19, 2014

    This will help indie/smaller artists a lot too. Hopefully Indie artists will benefit the most from this.

    It’ll be nice seeing Dawn Richard debut at #1, and some deserving amazing pieces of art like Broke with Expensive taste get the chart position they deserve.

    Music is totally FREE on radio and nobody complains when that is counted on Billboard, what is different about counting Streams?

    • Mark111 November 20, 2014

      Dude’s a flop, even Team BeatME have moved on. I think his album is close to the 300K or less. After a year of first singles and promo (WITH award shows twice, lol)

  33. Rosie November 19, 2014

    It’s a good idea but not a good formula. If they’re going to include streaming as sales, they should include how many times ALL the songs on an album has been played on Spotify, etc. (not just TEA) and then go from there.
    Album streaming certifications coming up next. Hopefully this means a few indie bands can get at least one gold album.

  34. Brian310 November 19, 2014

    I think one full album stream should count…you shouldn’t be able to stream a full album multiple times and each time it counts.

  35. blue November 19, 2014

    of the albums you buy, stream or download, how many of those do you listen to back to back? Trust on most you have 5/12 tracks that you play over and over. But i hope someone streaming one song over and over doesnt count towards this.

  36. blue November 19, 2014

    and also the amount of spins a song gets isnt necessary depended on the audience. With streaming at least the consumer is in control Of what they listen to.

  37. blue November 20, 2014

    oh well this is gonna suck for those artists who dont have much of an online presence, my fav is secured so i aint complaining

  38. TheElusiveLamb November 20, 2014

    O.k. sad, but I guess we all foreshadowed this not so festive moment. *off to stream Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse for a gold certification in the USA* lol

  39. absolved November 20, 2014

    This is stupid. The industry keeps making it permissible for people to not buy physical albums. How soon before free streaming methods (like when whole albums get posted on YouTube) get factored into the chart tabulation too? Hell, they already do for the Hot 100. What have any of these digital equations actually done FOR the industry? They keep on trying to come up with ways to pander to and placate the lazy listener when what they should be doing is making it harder for them to act the way they do. People keep saying the “old model” doesn’t work anymore, but these silly new ideas they keep throwing at the ceiling don’t seem to be helping anything. People can listen to music on their phones all day, but that’s not something that should be catered to or recognized. If you’re too lazy or cheap to go buy a damn $10 at Walmart, then nevermind you and what you’re listening to.

  40. JOHNVIDAL November 20, 2014

    What???????????? Nooooooooooo
    This is the end of everything then. Not even album charts are safe now. All the basic girls out there who get stream for teh fact that they offer eye candy will make it to the higher positions (Ariana Grande´s example in this article is proof).
    What a disgrace. If albums are now sselling just 30k copies first week then leave them sell only that, but for crying out loud leave the best selling ones at the top of the chart. Why the change? I don´t see how this helps in any possible way.

  41. Mariah Is Music November 20, 2014

    Yay for Rihanna who can’t sell albums.

  42. RoyalKev November 20, 2014

    This is tragic! I’m convinced that these charts are being ruined in this decade. I’ve come to accept the strategic trickery done on the HOT 100(a chart that means nothing to me now), but it’s ridiculous to tamper with the album chart. A chart based on “sales” should ONLY be about the sales. With this new formula, a brand new album streaming 50 million views (debut week) will have accumulated over 30K album sales … without selling a single copy. Who cares about how people are listening to the music when the BB200 represents how many people are purchasing it! All I can say is this unfair and totally misleading for the record books. This new rule spits in the face of all the legends(like MJ, Whitney, Janet, Madonna, Prince, Stevie, Sade, Diana, Streisand, etc) that had to “do the work” to achieve the same success as today’s super privileged artists … without any shortcuts! I don’t care if this benefits my fav or anyone else’s, it’s completely bogus.

    • Liam November 20, 2014

      !!! well said for legends who worked hard to promote and created records through really working on their art of musicianship…it’s a smart move but looking over this properly there is a lot of cons out weighting the pros

    • JuJu November 20, 2014

      It isn’t bogus. If streaming and other outlets were available during MJ’s time, those artists would have been working for them too considering that a significant portion of People who bought Thriller would have streamed it instead. Your idea would also say that they spit on the face of all legends before them who relied of Vinyl when they started counting CD sales at a time Hifi systems were only starting to kick in. An Economic model loses it’s significance if it’s assumptions are not a true reflection of the times. It’s like the Gaming industry, with online services like Xbox live that enable interaction with software on the cloud and the internet becoming more accessible, it does not make sense to measure popularity and support based on physical purchase. A song you hear everywhere is the one that should be popular on the chart as well. This also opens doors to Urban music that is consumed by the younger generation whom are often not interested buying discs and more discs when there is the convenience of cloud storage which is accessible anywhere, anytime.

      • Essa November 20, 2014

        Vinyls and compact discs for all intents and purposes were the same concept. CD quality was simply an upgrade from LPs. But they were the same basic idea. Streaming is not the same concept as vinyls/CDs and is definitely not a quality upgrade. It’s actually a downgrade.

    • Alexis Morell Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan November 26, 2014

      interesting omissions in your legends list…uh-huh

  43. Taylor swifts number 1 fan!! November 20, 2014

    Well Taylor swift has sold 2 million in the states in 3 weeks, by sales alone of her latest album.

  44. Liam November 20, 2014

    i honestly think that’s a smart move in this era of music however i think this may be harder for new and upcoming artist to get out swinging cause more establish stars will always be on top now…i could be wrong but we will see!

  45. JuJu November 20, 2014

    Perhaps the meaning of supporting an Artist has changed, Think of it like this, whenever you go to the Club, it is rare to hear songs that are #1 on the chart… With the exception of Rihanna, Katy and Iggy. Drunk in Love and CB’s LOyal are songs that AAAAAALLLWWWAAAAYYYZZZZZ play everywhere and they could have had a shot at number one. I bought Adele’s Album, but I don’t really listen to it unless it’s a “slow” day you know. So I think they new chart, (which Chris Brown described as the consumption chart), will help to accurately describe the Consumption of songs regardless Critical blog acclaim or bashing. What is the use of an Econometric model if it’s underlying assumptions are not a reflection of current times?

  46. Charlieyoncé November 20, 2014

    I honestly don’t know how I feel about this.

  47. Essa November 20, 2014

    The music industry is conspiring with its own killer. It’s because of things like streaming that the business of music has drastically shrunk over the past 10-15 years. But rather than fighting these cancers, the industry cozies up to them. In another 10 years all the major labels will be gone, the album format will be dead with nothing but stand alone singles for ringtones and there won’t be any real “superstar” artists left. Just a bunch of random, generic 1 hit wonder zombies cluttering up everything. If the music biz ain’t on a suicide mission, they better quit all this and go back to what was profitable.

  48. Alexis Morell Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan November 26, 2014

    This seems like it has too many cons…I can just see that allegations of chart trickery from major artists. If Billboard’s objective is to report on the most popular music during any given week, then maybe there needs to be a separate chart for just that.
    If the goal is to report on the most purchased music in a given week (coins exchanged for a product), then there should be a chart for that sole purpose.
    There are already 1,000 billboard charts, there’s no reason this couldn’t be an option. The reality is that the flavor of the month artists will be top 10 on the popular charts, but some less popular artist with a loyal fan-base will be the bigger, sustained seller.

  49. google October 27, 2016

    I do consider all the ideas you’ve introduced for your post.
    They’re very convincing and will certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are very brief for beginners.
    May you please extend them a bit from subsequent time?

    Thanks for the post.

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