“Just because the Billboard 200 has been based purely on sales of an album for the entirety of the life of the chart doesn’t mean it must always remain so. Today I pay to listen to most of my albums on a subscription streaming service. Should those count in some way on our albums chart? And what about a world that Jay would argue is already here — one in which not enough fans are willing to pay for music that they want to listen to. Should artists be forced to choose between landing a big brand deal or landing a higher placement on the Billboard charts? The answer to that cannot and should not be “yes.”
In the coming weeks, we’ll talk through highly nuanced questions about our album charts with top managers, retailers, brands, publishers, label executives and others, just as we have with recent chart changes. These discussions may well lead to some changes to our charting rules — or they may not. It’s a process that plays out here at Billboard all the time — the very same one that led to the tweaks allowing streaming on the Hot 100.
Should we decide changes are in order, we’ll give the business advance warning so the game stays fair, and certainly run test charts with our data partner Nielsen SoundScan to ensure the charts are up to our historic standards of integrity and accuracy. Learning about Jay-Z’s enormous and admirable ambition two weeks ago simply didn’t leave time for this. But rest assured, Billboard will find the right balance and metric to chart brand-driven album distribution just as we’ve found the right metrics for everything from the 78s that played on your grandparents’ Victrola to your mom and dad’s 8-track to your kid’s fascination with the new Miley Cyrus video on Vevo.
After all, we’re a business, man. And as the next part goes: we’ll handle our business. Damn.”
- Letter From The Editor: What Jay-Z’s ‘Magna Carta’ Means For The Billboard 200 Chart