In what may be an industry-shifting change, Billboard will soon begin counting video and audio plays and data from the leading video and streaming services into the Billboard 200 album chart for the first time ever, it was announced today (Dec. 13). Taking into effect with the charts dated Jan. 18, 2020, which track sales and streaming figures between Jan. 3-9, the forthcoming chart metrics will now reflect officially licensed video content plays from YouTube, Apple, Spotify, Tidal and Vevo. The change will also impact other genre album consumption charts, including country, R&B/hip-hop, Latin and others.
The implementation of video data into the Billboard 200 chart, which ranks the best-selling albums and EPs in the U.S. each week, follows a major change in 2014 when it pivoted from a strictly sales-based ranking to a multi-metric chart reflecting streaming figures and digital track sales—what's known as a "consumption model."
The Billboard 200, as well as the genre album charts, will only count "official licensed video content uploaded by or on behalf of rights holders," according to Billboard. Its counterpart, the Billboard Hot 100, the weekly chart ranking the top songs in the U.S., has counted YouTube streams and nonofficial user-generated videos since 2013.
"As the steward of the definitive charts that uphold the industry's measurement of music consumption, our goal is to continually respond and accurately reflect the changing landscape of the music," president of Billboard-The Hollywood Reporter Media Group, which oversees Billboard magazine, Deanna Brown said in a press release announcing the chart changes. "Our decision to add YouTube and other video streaming data to our album charts reflects the continuing evolution of the music consumption market and the ways in which consumers connect to album-related content."
Added Lyor Cohen, Global Head of Music at YouTube: “YouTube's inclusion in the Billboard 200 is a very important moment in making the chart a more accurate representation of what people are listening to. Genres like Latin, hip hop and electronic, which consistently dominate the YouTube charts, will now be properly recognized for their popularity. This is another great step in bringing YouTube and the industry together and we're so grateful to Billboard and the music business at large for making this addition.”
The Billboard 200 update is the latest development in a string of industry and chart changes throughout the years, which include the launch of the Social 50 and digital download charts as well as streaming chart changes.
Rooted in the 1950s and evolving throughout the decades, the Billboard 200 chart adopted its current name in 1992.