File this under ‘on-demand streaming keeps marching forward and infiltrating more of the business of music.’ Billboard will now incorporate on-demand streaming services to its famed Billboard 200 chart — the chart that tracks the top 200 albums for the week.
Until now, Billboard used pure album sales from Nielsen SoundScan to rank the albums. Now SoundScan will add streaming numbers — from on-demand services like Spotify, Beats Music, Rdio, Rhapsody, Google Play Music — to sales numbers for an over-all ranking. The formula is 1500 streams equals 1 sale. Also added to the formula is “track equivalent albums” — which means when any 10 individual tracks are downloaded, one album sale is counted.
Slightly complicated… the idea here is to somehow measure popularity in the digital age. Since consuming music is changing at a fast pace, and different demographics get their music differently, Billboard is attempting to move with the times. The formula might be a work-in-progress.
Bob Lefsetz does not think the chart will be relevant. He commented on Billboard’s new formula, saying they should keep it simple, “The only thing that counts is listens. Sales are irrelevant. Especially of albums.”