May 9, 2023 2 min read

Billboard updates chart rules on bundles yet again

Billboard has updated its chart rules on album bundling yet again as part of its ongoing efforts to gauge the actual popularity of albums and stop artists from gaming the system in order to boost their US chart position.

Having almost entirely disallowed the bundling of albums with other items when it comes to counting sales for its charts via a previous rule change back in 2020, the company has now made provisions for what it is calls ‘fan packs’ to be chart eligible in the US.

Despite the previous efforts to limit the inclusion of bundles in chart eligible sales, Billboard says that research indicates that fans do want to support their favourite artists by buying more than one item in a single purchase. And so, bundles are back in. Although in specific circumstances.

The rules are these: There can be only two bundled options for any one album release; the other item in a bundle must be a physical product – so a t-shirt or poster, for example; and the album being sold in the bundle must also be a physical copy. Downloads are still out.

“Fan pack offerings are a way to recognise the dynamic artist-fan relationship [and] provide an efficient one-click step for consumers to purchase merchandise and music”, says Silvio Pietroluongo, Billboard’s EVP Charts & Data Partnerships.

Billboard previously changed its rules in relation to bundling in 2019 and 2020. At the time, it was felt that album downloads were often being thrown into purchases of other items, and then being submitted as a chart eligible sales.

However, as only a small number of those album downloads were ever redeemed, suggesting the fans were only really interesting in the merch they had bought, there were complaints that this did not actually reflect the popularity of an album.

Initial rule changes in 2019 attempted to counteract this, but many felt that they did not go far enough. So in 2020, Billboard announced that it would pretty much stop counting bundles in its charts altogether – except where a fan had actively chosen to add a discounted album to the purchase of another item.

The research cited to justify this latest rule change allowing bundles to be counted once more is the recent Music 360 report from Billboard’s sister company Luminate. That report reckoned that 48% of Gen Z music fans want their favourite artists to provide more merch items for sale, as do 47% of all physical music purchasers.

The new rules will come into effect on 30 Jun.

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
You've successfully subscribed to CMU.
Your link has expired.
Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.
Success! Your billing info has been updated.
Your billing was not updated.
Privacy Policy