The art of gaming the billboard charts with “free” album inclusions tacked on to ticket purchases took a blow this week, as the publication announced it would no longer include albums distributed in this fashion in its chart tallying.
“We think this will eliminate uncertainty and bring the charts back to what they’re supposed to represent: consumption of music.,” Silvio Pietroluongo, Billboard’s head of charts told the Wall Street Journal. “If it’s purchased, streamed – that’s what’s going to contribute to chart performance and not anything beyond that.
“We try to do what’s best for the artist. It doesn’t do anyone any good to get to No. 1 and there to be questions about how they got there.”
Ticket bundles have been controversial in recent years, as some artists have complained that sub-standard releases have shot to the top of the chart based on sales of entirely separate categories of items. Billboard has been considering tweaks to hot it handles such bundling since at least last year.
Artists have been pitted against each other. Two weeks ago, Tyler, The Creator’s new record Igor faced DJ Khaled’s new project Father of Asahd. While both artists received a similar amount of streams, it came down to the album bundles. Even though Tyler offered clothing and lawn-style campaign signs along with his album, Khaled’s album was included with energy drinks on the e-commerce site, Shop.com, which was actively promoting “Push DJ Khaled and Market America to No. 1.” Brown told the Times that in this instance, a line was crossed.
Khaled’s management company, Roc Nation, said the decision had blindsided them and they actually denounce the practice. Roc Nation’s chief operating officer Desiree Perez told The Times that “we dispute their decision on behalf of DJ Khaled and frankly, every artist who is forced to navigate bundling an album download with an inexpensive item that still effectively represents their brand, noting that “it’s confusing and demeaning to the art.”
“We’re obviously not fans of bundling, nor should anyone who cares about artists making music. But our hands are being forced by Billboard’s desperate, last-ditch effort to keep streaming from eliminating what’s left of music downloads,” she said.
Other acts to ride bundle sales to the top of Billboard charts despite paltry streaming figures included Madonna’s Madame X tour and Bon Jovi.
Per WSJ, an album sale will count for the Billboard charts only if it is listed and itemized separately from the merchandise or tickets that it is sold alongside. It will also only count such sales when they are shipped, rather than when the order is placed.