The last few years have seen a heightened lens placed on music streaming, on-demand services, and how they represent consumer interests. With that, Billboard – the industry leader in ranking music consumption and song popularity – has been faced with the task of continuously updating its means of data calculation to ensure fair and accurate reporting for chart placements.
Positions on the Hot 100 (singles charts) were at one time solely comprised of radio airplay and sales (physical and digital), while the Billboard 200 (album charts) were comprised solely of sales of the whole album (physical and digital). In 2014 (as we reported here), after stunning fans with the incorporation of certain platform streaming figures in Hot 100 placements (read more here), the Billboard 200’s placement calculation formula was updated to include album and individual track streams and individual track downloads. As time went on, the Hot 100’s data went on to include Pandora (read more here), Soundcloud (read more here), and more. The moves – though controversial at the onset – were reflective of streaming becoming the industry’s biggest moneymaker (read more on that here).
Now, with controversy around ticket bundling, paid streaming (i.e. Spotify, Apple Music) versus free streaming (Youtube), and more considered, the Music Bible has revealed yet another shake-up in how it will formulate what data goes into placing songs and albums on their respective charts:
“Currently, Billboard has two defined types of streaming plays for the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart (and our other hybrid songs charts): on-demand (such as Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube) and programmed (such as Pandora and Slacker Radio), with on-demand having a greater weight.
Beginning in 2018, plays occurring on paid subscription-based services (such as Amazon Music and Apple Music) or on the paid subscription tiers of hybrid paid/ad-supported platforms (such as SoundCloud and Spotify) will be given [EVEN MORE] weight in chart calculations than those plays on pure ad-supported services (such as YouTube) or on the non-paid tiers of hybrid paid/ad-supported services.
The Billboard 200 will now include two tiers of on-demand audio streams: paid subscription audio streams and ad-supported audio streams. The chart will continue to not incorporate video streams.”
- Ad-supported audio streams (Pandora, etc.) WILL now be included in Billboard 200 placements
- Youtube videos WILL NOT impact Billboard 200 placements (contrary to industry rumors)
- In 2018, the streaming platforms that impact chart placements will not do so equally. Some (paid subscription services) will have more influence than others (non-paid subscription services).
- The services will be categorized in “weight tiers”
- Ticket bundling – in its current format – is STILL an acceptable means of music consumption and will continue to count toward chart placements
See the full list of streaming services Billboard uses to calculate chart rankings.