Billboard has announced changes to its chart rules for the Billboard 200 albums chart, Hot 100 singles chart, and other album and song charts.
The US chart compiler has changed how sales are counted with regards to album bundles (albums that come with merchandise and concert tickets purchases), and instant download sales attached to purchases of physical albums that are delivered at a later date.
When consumers are buying merchandise or gig tickets, they will now have to select to "opt in" the album as part of the purchase. Bundles where the album is included as part of a "baked-in, single price option" will no longer be counted towards the charts.
Physical product purchases will be counted when they are shipped to the consumer.
Similarly, Billboard will no longer count digital single downloads that are offered in place of physical products that are posted out at a later date. This rule will impact the Hot 100 singles chart, where acts often use it to boost their chart placement.
A recent example of this is Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber's charity single Stuck With You, where a physical release was available to buy during its first week. Another is Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You, where pre-ordered physical copies of the single counted towards its first ever stint at Number 1 last year, and were mailed out at a later date.
According to Billboard, the rule changes are the result of concerns that the charts "do not reflect the conscious purchasing intentions of consumers”, and to “level the playing field for all artists”.
A start date for the new chart rules has yet to be announced.