The Billboard charts have a fairly extensive history in the music industry. The charts have become known for tracking music popularity by record sales and radio plays. After the Internet changed how people listen to music, Billboard updated to include online streaming. The update allowed hits like Baauer‘s “Harlem Shake” to hit #1 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart.
Up to now, Billboard counted paid and free streams equally. For example, a free stream on YouTube equaled a paid stream on Spotify. However, that will soon change. Billboard announced that paid streams will be counted more than free streams, starting the week of June 29 to July 5.
Paid streams will now count for one full point per play. Meanwhile, free streams will count for two-thirds of a point per play. Also, streams through digital programs such as Pandora will count for one-half of a point. The system for counting entire album streams will be updated as well. Now, 1,250 paid streams will count as an “album sale,” while 3,750 free streams will be required for an equivalent “album sale.” But, free trial streams will count the same as paid streams.
While the changes take effect in late June, they will be reconsidered by Billboard in October. Billboard also announced that the new paid stream model will be adjusted further next year. The adjustment will count paid streams with full music libraries more than other, limited paid streams.
Will the changes have a significant impact on how releases will chart? We’ll see!