Billboard have announced a huge overhaul of their rules in direct response to the popularized practice of bundling albums and singles with merchandise and concert tickets.
Initially permitted as a means of recognizing the change in how the public consume music, the rules have been bent in earnest by several artists looking to maintain commercial viability. Often to extremes that have been critiqued en masse.
And Billboard has had enough.
Today, the industry bible has published updates to their rulebook designed to “more accurately reflect consumer choice” and to “level the playing field for all artists.”
Billboard done so to counter what it effectively says has been exploitative efforts used to benefit sales – given that traditional units still carry more chart weight than industry-leading streaming formats.
Full details on the changes below…
Per the new rules:
Merch & Ticket Bundles
Must Be Promoted As “Add-Ons”
In order to be counted on the charts, albums must be specifically billed as an add-on at point of purchase of concert or merch.
Albums included as part of an all-encompassing, single-price option (along with the merchandise or ticket), with the cost of the album undisclosed to the consumer, will no longer be counted.
Physical Edition Of Albums / Singles MUST
Be Available To Ship At Time Of Ticket/Merch Purchase To Count On The Charts
Billboard will no longer allow sales of physical albums or singles that are 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 — ostensibly what the consumer is buying — is shipped, will it be counted in Billboard’s official tallies.
This is specifically being implemented to do away with the widespread 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– with both counting to the first week sales. The latest rule changes will render that tactic ineffectual.
Note: Billboard specifically list 6ix9ine, Justin Bieber, and Ariana Grande as acts who’ve “used the tactic to boost their chart positions.”
Suffice to say, this will no doubt shake the industry up in a significant way.
Bundling has been the source of much controversy, as such it will be interesting to see how it affects the charts (and certain artists) moving forward.
In there here and now, what are…