Many artists and industry execs may think that the Billboard charts are less relevant than they’ve ever been, but they’re still used as a measurement of success no matter how you look at it. That’s why it’s long been argued that the way that the charts count streams is insufficient. It appears that’s changing soon as the company has instituted a different way to measure streams to make the charts both fairer and a more useful way of determining just how successful a song or album is.
According to Billboard, “Currently,Â BillboardÂ has two defined types of streaming plays for theÂ Billboard Hot 100Â songs chart (and our other genre-specific 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. TheÂ Billboard 200Â albums chart — and our other genre-based consumption-ranked albums charts — uses a single tier (equating 1,500 streams as one album unit) for on-demand audio streams (paid or ad-supported) from subscription services. Video streams and programmed audio streams do not contribute to the Billboard 200âsÂ calculations, but are incorporated into the Hot 100.”
Essentially, what that means is that streams are all measured the same regardless of if they’re from a free or paid subscription tier.
As of the week of June 29th, streams on the Hot 100 will rate subscription streams with a full point value per play, ad-supported streams will receive a 2/3-point value per play, and programmedÂ streams (like from Pandora or satellite radio) representing a 1/2-point value per play).
Streams on the Billboard 200 album chart will also be weighted by tier. TIER 1 will be for paid subscription audio streams where 1,250 streams will now equal 1 album unit, and TIER 2 will be ad-supported audio streams where 3,750 streams will equal 1 album unit.
Beginning in 2019, the Billboard 200 will separate paid subscription streams even more. There will be two more tiers – the higher tier will be paid subscriptions that provide full music library access and no restrictions on on-demand functionality, and a secondary tier of paid subscriptions that provide a partial music library and/or limited on-demand functionality.
What will be interesting to see is if the company breaks out the separate tiers, as that information can be useful in watching trends of how songs and albums are being consumed.
Regardless, this is a big change for the Billboard charts and one that’s been a long time coming.