Breaking: Billboard Will *NOT* Incorporate YouTube Into Its Official Chart

Is YouTube fair use a fairytale?
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Sorry, YouTube.  Billboard doesn’t want you in its official album chart.

Yes, the Billboard 200 has become a music industry joke.  But YouTube won’t be allowed to laugh along.

According to a statement from Billboard, YouTube won’t be included in the algorithm that makes up the Billboard 200 album chart.  That’s Billboard’s marquee, ‘official’ chart.

Of course, ‘albums’ are practically meaningless to most artists these days.  But Billboard has replaced the ‘album’ with a complex algorithm of ‘equivalent’ paid downloads, streams, and actual, bona fide album sales.

Throw it all together, and presto!  Out pops Billboard’s fictional 2017 ‘album sale’.  And a ‘chart topper’ of these ‘albums’ is ‘#1 on the Billboard charts’.

So, if Spotify is part of this chart, why isn’t YouTube?

The probable answer is that Billboard — and the music industry it claims to represent — really, really hates YouTube.  Part of the reason is that YouTube pays abysmally low royalties.  Then proceeds to claim that these royalties are actually much higher.

And that’s just the beginning.

YouTube Says It Pays $3 for Every 1,000 Views. A Musician Says He’s Making 1/50th of That.

Outside of the royalty debate, YouTube is arguably the largest platform in the world for listening to music.  And there’s very little difference between a streamed video on YouTube and a streamed track on Spotify.  Especially when it comes to a music fan.

But Billboard is still saying no.  Because the industry is saying no.  Here’s Billboard’s official statement on the matter:

“The chart will continue to not incorporate video streams. The Billboard 200 ranks the most popular albums of the week based on multi-metric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums, and streaming equivalent albums.”

Earlier, Hits Daily Double claimed that YouTube would be incorporated into the Billboard 200.  That turned out to be wrong, though its entirely possible that Hits’ tip provoked protests that forced Billboard to change course.

Either way, the Billboard 200 will be YouTube-less for now.

Spotify Pays 75% More Than YouTube on Free Streams; 515% More on Paid Streams

Additionally, free streams will be treated differently than paid streams.

The shift means that paid streaming numbers will count more heavily towards chart rankings.  Here’s the official statement on the split:

“Beginning in 2018, plays occurring on paid subscription-based services (such as Amazon Music and Apple Music) or on the paid subscription tiers of hybrid paid/ad-supported platforms (such as SoundCloud and Spotify) will be given more weight in chart calculations than those plays on pure ad-supported services (such as YouTube) or on the non-paid tiers of hybrid paid/ad-supported services.”

The move will undoubtedly benefit artists that are ‘gated’ on Spotify’s paid tiers.

Just recently, Spotify agreed to restrict certain releases to paid-only subscribers, a concession for lowered major label royalties.  That has been a longtime goal of the big three major labels, though Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek has long argued against restricted tiers.

Looking ahead to 2018, here’s a list of every streaming music platform that will factor into the Billboard 200.

Billboard 200 (+ Genre Album Charts) Streaming Services

ServiceAudio/VideoData Type
Amazon Music UnlimitedAudioPaid
Amazon PrimeAudioPaid
Apple MusicAudioPaid
Google PlayAudioPaid
Groove Music Pass (Xbox)AudioPaid
SoundCloudAudioPaid / Ad Supported
SpotifyAudioPaid / Ad Supported

As for Groove, we’re not sure why that is being included.  Just recently, Microsoft indicated that Groove would be retiring in 2018, and transitioned into Spotify.  That’s right, Microsoft has given up on music streaming and handed the crown jewels to Spotify.

Microsoft Officially Abandons Streaming Music — Here’s the Blog Post Ending It All

Unclear is whether bundled streaming services will receive a different consideration than directly-paid platforms.  Amazon Prime, for example, is available as a bundled perk to Prime customers.  So is a stream on Amazon Prime equal to a stream on directly-paid Spotify Premium?

+ CNBC’s ‘Closing Bell’ Asks Digital Music News: ‘How’s Amazon Music?’

Welcome to the clusterf—k that is the modern ‘album’ chart.

But wait!  YouTube IS included in Billboard’s other charts.

As you pop your fourth Advil, analyze this one.  Despite its exclusion from the Billboard 200, Billboard will be including YouTube’s low-rent streams into its Hot 100 and various genre charts.

Accordingly, here’s a breakdown of all of the streaming services that will constitute the Hot 100 + Genre Charts.

 Hot 100 (+ Genre Charts) Streaming

ServiceAudio/VideoData Type
Amazon Music UnlimitedAudioPaid
Amazon PrimeAudioPaid
Apple MusicAudioPaid
Apple MusicVideoPaid
Google PlayAudioPaid
Groove Music Pass (Xbox)AudioPaid
SoundCloudAudioPaid / Ad Supported
SpotifyAudioPaid / Ad Supported
Vevo on YouTubeVideoAd Supported
YouTubeVideoAd Supported
AOL Radio (Powered by Slacker)AudioProgrammed
Google RadioAudioProgrammed

And what about the music industry’s NEW chart?

Glad you asked.   Alongside the whole YouTube/Billboard 200 imbroglio, a faction of the music industry has been working on its own chart solution.  That would completely ape Billboard’s confusing mess of calculations, though it’s unclear what a replacement chart would look like.

Or, if the modern music industry really needs a unifying chart anymore.

More as this develops.

3 Responses

  1. Jim

    Why don’t the replace all that with money spent, or money received?

    Like the movies?

    The movies have these big impressive totals, but there is nothing that people can look at in music that give anything like a real number.

    Everything in music is secret, probably because the artists seem to always be getting ripped off in music.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      I’ve never heard this idea before! A gross earnings list for music releases. Based on averages it could be estimated, but for the most part, this is all a big black box. At least for now.

  2. Art

    Another example of an industry refusing to embrace the change brought by technology