Change is coming to the Billboard album charts. The outlet has announced it’s altering the rules for how it calculates sales regarding merchandise and album bundles.
Starting on January 3, 2020, album sales will only be counted as part of bundles if every item in the bundle is sold at the same time and individually on an artist’s official direct-to-consumer website. If bundles went on sale prior to the January start date, they still must adhere to the new policy. This change also applies when calculating additional sales for albums released prior to the switch in rules.
Billboard has additionally determined merchandise items in bundles must be sold for a lower price than the complete package. Any bundle must be priced at least $3.49 more than the lone merch item in order to qualify as an album sale on the charts.
The change in rules won’t alter the formula for album sales paired with concert tickets, which currently allow artists to set a price for a concert ticket that includes the cost of their album if it comes with an offer to redeem the project mail or download. However, only albums that are actually redeemed by customers are counted as sales on Billboard charts.
Bundles for album sales became a source of scrutiny in 2019, particularly within Hip Hop. Earlier this year, DJ Khaled lashed out after bundles that would’ve boosted his sales weren’t counted, resulting in him losing out to Tyler, The Creator for the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200.