Billboard has announced that it will start to count YouTube streams for the Billboard 200 albums chart. The move is set to start next year. Video streams from streaming services such as Vevo, Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, and others will also be factored in. The change will cut across all genres. Billboard charts in Country, Latin, and other genres will also be updated to reflect these new changes.
For the last six years, video streams have been incorporated into Billboard’s song specific charts. But this is the first time they are adding the streams into the album ratings. Billboard has also been slowly updating its album charts to factor in more and more metrics. For many years the charts were largely influenced by album sales but things have changed in recent years.
For example, just recently, the magazine added audio as part of its album ranking metrics. Besides, the idea of factoring video streams has been under consideration for a while too. But Billboard put off the decision over and over again until now. However, the magazine made it clear that it will only consider “official license video content uploaded by or on behalf of rights holders”. The magazine also noted that it will be working very closely with other third-party companies to create safeguards that protect against any possible manipulation.
The magazine will also be looking to put measures in place to detect and prevent any automated streams that may create bias in the way the metric is interpreted for different artists. The changes are expected to kick in from January 18th next year. The video steaming metric will also not include free streams. Billboard has defined “free” as streams a user has accessed for free or through a trial period of a streaming subscription.
Although for many years “free” streams were always included in the Billboard 200 charts, the practice seems like it’s going away. Billboard says that it wants to further enhance transparency in the way the charts are ranked. The magazine says that it wants to provide as much information as possible so that the public can get acquainted with how the process works.
However, there are still no rules on how content creators can promote or advertise their content. Artists and content publishers are free to explore whatever promotional strategies they believe will give their content more visibility and of course more streaming. Whether this will change in the future remains to be seen.
The Billboard 200 is a record chart that ranks 200 of the best albums in the United States. The chart is used as a measure of an artist’s popularity and remains one of the most respected rankings in the music industry. The chart started off in the 1950s as a top ten ranking. Over the decades, it has expanded the list and included more measurement metrics as well, especially now that the consumption of digital music has become so widespread in the US.