Major! Billboard Introduce New Streaming Rule: Paid Plays To Have Heavier Weighting

Published: Wednesday 2nd May 2018 by Sam

Streaming has revolutionlised the way music is consumed and has had a transformative effect on the industry at large.

And while this had a positive impact (such as empowering independent artists), there’s been ample critique.

Some of the most prominent problems critics have pointed out include the questionable royalty payouts to artists and the uniform weighting of plays from free and paid for platforms.

Billboard, the official US chart body, have listened and are introducing major changes.

Find out more below…

From June 29th, plays on paid subscription-based services (such as Apple Music and Amazon Music) or on the paid tiers of hybrid paid/ad-supported platforms (such as Spotify and SoundCloud) will be given more weight in chart calculations than plays on free ad-supported services (such as YouTube) or the free versions of Spotify and the like.

Structurally streams will now be weighed up in tiers.

For the Billboard 200 album tally, here’s what methodology looks like:

TIER 1: paid subscription audio streams (equating 1,250 streams to 1 album unit)
TIER 2: ad-supported free audio streams (equating 3,750 streams to 1 album unit).
[*trial subscriptions will fall into TIER 1]

While for the Billboard Hot 100 singles count:

Paid Plays = The full value of the play is counted (i.e. 1 play = 1 play)
Free Plays = two third of play is counted (1 play = 0.66 plays)


The unprecedented move comes after after calls from many in the industry for greater streaming regulation and representation.

It’s also taking place after Spotify’s recent reveal that some albums will only be available on their paid tier; with it being at the artist’s discretion as to whether it’s for the initial launch window or in perpetuity.


This stands to be a major win for musicians – especially the heavy hitters, many of whom have taken turns shunning a full embrace of streaming (see: Beyonce, Adele, Taylor Swift).

More broadly, it’ll almost certainly see labels have a heightened focus on paid platforms in the bid for chart glory. A reality that should theoretically see artists make more from streaming revenue in the long run.

In any case, we’re all for this and feel it’s been long overdue.

Maybe just maybe, we’ll see less platform specific releases (ala ‘Lemonade’ on TIDAL) and more tier specific roll-outs – the latter of which is more of a win for fans.

Enough from us though; what are…

Your thoughts?

Comments 14

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  1. Memo May 2, 2018

    Why does it always have to revolve around Floponcé’s ass? She’s not the greatest. Lame way to focus everything on her existing way more TIDAL-exclusive releases.

    • Jamon May 2, 2018

      I have to agree. I’m surprised they didn’t put her pic or lemonade album cover on the title. Progress, I guess.

    • Jasmine May 2, 2018

      They should not be counting free streams in the first place! A lot of people are like me. They will listen to a new song out of curiousity from a popular artist freely on youtube. If youtube plays an add I mute it or better yet I’ll have the 5 or 6 songs i plan to listen to and just download them to my youtube downloader and listen to them off there. People like Meme were arguing with me on this topic before trying to tell me that free streams do not count but obviously I was correct and this Billboard article proves that youtube and spotify free streams are being counted on their charts when people did not pay to listen to the songs.

  2. B2B May 2, 2018

    They want B7 on all platforms. Sorry, argue with your mother.

  3. ??? May 2, 2018

    lmao roach the scammer strikes again lmao!!! bisssh cant pull 2 million albums in 2 years so now shes pulling yet another scam so she can finally get a billboard hit after her koolaid singles all flopped lmfaooooo

  4. Casual May 2, 2018

    This change isn’t exactly going to rock the charts. I would be surprised if the paid tiers have different chart tallies than the free ones. Let’s assume that Drake’s Nice for What is #1 on both.

  5. Brent Christopher May 2, 2018

    i wish streaming had never become a part of music marketing or a method of consumerism. i HATE that there is no such thing anymore of us waking up, taking off school, going to FYE on a tuesday morning & actually BUYING a physical copy of our favorite new album or most anticipated new project from our fave artist. I HATE that theres no such thing anymore of seeing exclusive new hard copy photos of artists shot for inside their album jackets 7 then reading their song lyrics & thank you notes. STREAMING IS THE DEVIL and it has completely ruined the music industry at large. i hate it and always will.

    • javi May 2, 2018

      I do share your frustration as well as the nostalgia of it all. I used to spend my allowance on CD’s; riding my bike miles to the record store. Hell, I remember just going to the record store and spending time just perusing through countless CD’s. Theme’s something to be said about how music was listened to then as opposed to now. I feel like now three’s hardly anyone who will play an album in it’s entirety.

    • Jasmine May 2, 2018

      Free Downloads killed the thrill of buying a physical copy for most. Free Downloads and bootleggers had the albums days before the physical release was available in stores. Streaming gave the record labels the ability to put music out the same day as the bootleggers and free downloaders got it. However, streaming is not the fix to the bigger issue of peoople not wanting to spend money on music.

      • Casual May 2, 2018

        @Jasmine: There was never a fix to the issue of people not wanting to spend money on music. Back in the day, kids used to record songs from the radio on cassettes. Piracy and scoring free music has been an issue in the music industry for at least 40 years, and the industry blamed recording for the huge sales decline in the late 80s.

    • Jeans May 2, 2018

      I hate it too. And always will. Bring back the days when you waited in line to purchase a cd. Reading album liner notes. Totally agree with you!

  6. Alex May 2, 2018

    This is a great idea!! Now artists are going to have to put in WORK to chart and break records!! Tired of these mediocre artists easily breaking the records set by legends who actually had longevity and TALENT. There’s a certain fan base i know that is FUMING cuz their so called “princess” is gonna have to think about the mcpop singles that she releases! Lmao!! ??‍♂️

  7. Bianca May 2, 2018

    I see this as an issue for artists not consumers. I still don’t get why consumers are so into who sells what. That’s how I know most of y’all don’t support good music u support specific artists and that is what’s wrong with the music industry

  8. DanYiel Iman May 2, 2018

    I don’t understand the streaming service, i just purchase album’s still!!

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