Billboard had decided to change how the rules for their Billboard 200 and Hot 100 charts work. For years, bands had made up for lost album sales by bundling albums with the sale of concert tickets, or merch packages. Remember showing up for a Prince show and finding his latest CD on your seat? How about getting a copy of Metallica’s tenth studio album, Hardwired… To Self-Destruct in the mail after purchasing concert tickets? These were all practices used by artists to get their albums on the Billboard charts.

But Billboard has now closed this loop hole used to help inflate album and single sales. They have also made it so that if a vinyl album, or CD includes a digital download, said download does not count as an additional sale. How many people bought an album in either format thinking “oh wow this is so cool, they included the digital format as well”. Or decided to pick up the physical format because they were getting this freebie? Low and behold, seems like this wasn’t done with the consumer’s best interest in mind. Once again, looks like it was done as a way to inflate numbers.

This rules change came about after Billboard had already made a change in January. At the time they modified their existing rules making it so that if an album or single was bundled with merch, it also had to be sold separately on the same page.  This went largely ignored, so they have decided to further tweak things.

Under the new rules, an album or single can only count as a sale when bundled with a ticket or merch if it is an opt-in option. For example after selecting a merch bundle having “want to add David Lee Roth’s Eat Em And Smile to your cart”? Get ready, we’re going to start seeing additional pop-ups promoting album sales. Or auto the pesky opt-in option already selected at checkout to try and squeeze in some additional sales. Lets face it, a certain percentage of people won’t notice, or bother complaining.

The practice of receiving an immediate digital download of a sale, and receiving the physical copy a few months later was a tactic readily used by plenty of big name pop artists. This helped drive the lead single off of their new album up the charts. That sale will now only be counted once the physical becomes available.

Billboard stated the following:

Despite the latest rule changes on album bundling, Billboard will continue to work with the industry to reflect merchandise sales within existing charts such as the Artist 100, as well as potential merchandise-specific charts down the line.


The music industry has used plenty of schemes over the years to help inflate album sales. This will not stop marketers or labels from looking for another loop hole to help their artists gain placement on Billboard’s charts. Even though album sales are down across the board, being able to say you made it on their charts is still considered an accomplishment when so many other can’t make that same claim.

To read Billboard’s statement on their rule change go here.

Article by Victor M. Ruiz of Mars Attacks Radio & Podcast, and Galaxy Of Geeks Podcast.  Connect with him on Twitter:  @vmr907

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