According to Chart Data, Billboard is changing how it calculates what counts towards its Hot 100 chart.
“Billboard will no longer count digital download singles from artist web stores (D2C) towards the Hot 100,” reads a tweet from Chart Data, an analytics feed that keeps a close watch on how the digital music stats are evolving from week to week. Neither Billboard nor Luminate have confirmed the changes to the Hot 100 chart.
“So the only thing that will count is mass radio and paid for bot streams, industry is wicked, fr,” reads one comment in response to the policy change. “So the plays only count on the platforms the labels own a piece of, They know what they doing,” reads another. “Changing the rules every other week is so unserious of them,” reads yet another comment, which highlights a good point—are Billboard charts even representative of the pulse of the music industry anymore?
In May 2023, Billboard made changes to how ‘fan packs’ count for album charts this summer. The new combinations of merch and albums must be a sweatshirt with an LP or a t-shirt with a CD or other physical album—with no bundled inclusives like tickets, meet-or-greet opportunities, or other non-tangible benefits like video game items or NFTs. The fan pack combo cannot be a physical merch item with a digital download—that does not count toward the charts.
Album bundling has become standard practice to help boost sales on the charts, but it’s a controversial one. Some execs say it distorts what’s popular because the packaged items incentivize fans to buy to support the fandom rather than to support a good album. Billboard removed bundling from its charts in October 2020, but now the practice is back with rules in place to prevent concerns about ‘chart distortion.’
You know what distorts the charts, Billboard? Not including downloads from artists’ web presences as the web increasingly becomes enshittified.