Billboard and Nielsen SoundScan are set to include streaming data and track sales into how they determines rankings, according to Rolling Stone. The changes on Billboard’s album chart are set to be reflected on December 4 and Billboard charts editor Silvio Pietroluongo says this is a significant shift. “We were always limited to the initial impulse, when somebody purchased an album,” he says in an interview with The New York Times. “Now we have the ability to look at that engagement and gauge the popularity of an album over time.”
Spotify, Beats Music, Rhapsody and Google Play are among the services that will be part of this change. Rhapsody’s co-chairmen wrote a Billboard article Friday (November 21), in which they said the future of streaming is bright. “We truly believe that streaming – done right – can be part of a future where recorded music is again a vibrant and growing industry,” they wrote.
Billboard charts’ changes go beyond this. “Track equivalent albums” are also set to be part of the Billboard 200 rankings, which means 10 individual song downloads count for an album. This may impact artists who are not on streaming services, like those who’ve followed Taylor Swift, or artists who have albums that are mainly purchased and not streamed, like Barbara Streisand, says The Times. However, Taylor Swift is not likely to be impacted too much, according to David Bakula, a senior analyst with Nielsen. “No amount of streaming in the world could keep Taylor from No. 1,” he says.
The issues surrounding streaming are becoming more and more hotly debated and this Billboard change is sure to add fuel to the conversation.