Everyone remembers in school when we learned “new” math. Well Billboard has determined its new math by allowing streaming music into its formula for determining their charts. Here’s are the new rules
Ten digital track sales from an album is equivalent to one album sale,
1,500 song streams from an album equates to one album sale. A
Eleven of the major on-demand audio subscription services are considered, including Spotify, Beats Music, Google Play and Xbox Music.
If you’re wondering how Billboard came up with the magic number of 1500 spins to equal one album you can look at payments per spin. It generally varies but artists receive around $.007 for one play on a streaming site. Multiply that by 1500 and you get $10.50. The approximate cost of a full length album.
This is the biggest change in the industry magazine since 1991 when Soundscan entered the picture with an actual count of albums sold. Previously, Billboard had relied solely on record stores to determine sales. Record labels suddenly could not “fix” chart positions. Pop albums by a number of new artists whose careers major record companies were trying to establish suddenly plummeted, while a bunch of country albums took dramatic upward leaps. Suddenly new names appeared like Garth Brooks and famously, Nirvana unseated Michael Jackson for the #1 album spot.
I think the industry took a deep breath. Since Taylor Swift does not stream music will this be the end of her reign as the #1 pop queen? Would a popular You Tube sensation Miranda Sings suddenly replace her as the reigning pop queen? Would Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” make a brief return to the charts?
The first chart came out and it looks like all is well. Taylor is back at #1, unseating One Direction which fell to #4. A capella group Pentatonix seems to have benefited the most as they jumped to #2 with their Christmas album (227,000 total units (and 217,000 physical sales).
Sam Smith and Ariana Grande witnessed immense increases of 278% and 591%, respectively, on the back of significant streaming; Grande’s album climbed 32 chart positions.
It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out in 2015.