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Streaming is about to invade the Billboard charts!

Starting next week, every 1,500 songs that are streamed will be counted as a single album

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
November 20, 2014
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/3a88

Taylor Swift and other artists may not like streaming services much (my girlfriend got a kick out of Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke calling Spotify "the last desperate fart of a dying corpse") but the artists may soon need those services, including Spotify, Pandora and Rdio, to give their careers a boost.

That's because streaming plays are about to be officially counted, and factored into, the Billboard charts, it was announced on Thursday. Nielsen SoundScan, the agency that supplies Billboard with its data, will start including streams and downloads of tracks into the Billboard 200.

So how will this all work? Every time an album sees a total of 1,500 streams, it will count as one single album sale. Also being counted in sales from now on are 10 song downloads. 

This change is going to take effect very soon too, covering the week starting Monday the 24th, and going until Nov. 30. The chart with the new stats be revealed on Billboard’s website on Thursday December 4th.

This is a major shakeup for the music industry (Billboard calls it the biggest change since the adoption of SoundScan over 20 years ago), but its not the first time that itn has embraced the digital side: last year, Billboard starting counting YouTube views toward the Hot 100.

That has apparently had a negligible effect on those rankings, but this is different animal altogether. The Hot 100 ranks pop singles, which are still the realm of young people and currently popular artists. Album sales, however, don't necessarily skew young. And that has been especially true since no one under 35 actually buys CDs anymore. But you know who does? Old people.

That's why Barbara Streisand had a number one album in September. With the new data, she may not have been able to achieve that goal. Taylor Swift, on the other hand, didn't need Spotify to have the number one album in the country for the past three weeks. And having her streams included would only have solidified her position.

Billboard will still publish a chart, called Top Album Sales, that it says "will maintain the traditional Billboard 200 methodology, comprising Nielsen's sales data exclusively." So artists like Streisand won't be completely out of luck.

This move is an indication of how important streaming has become as it has grown in popularity. Last year alone, streaming rose 32%, while digital track sales suffered their first year to year decline. And it was recently reported that iTunes sales are down a total of 13% this year so far.

There have also been reports that musicians in Europe are now making somewhere around 13% more in royalties from Spotify than they are from iTunes.

Artists are unhappy with the amount of money they get from services like Pandora and Spotify, but I wonder if, now that streaming can help them on the charts, perhaps artists will be singing a different tune (pun intended).

(Image source: atrl.net)


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