Have you even wondered how popular music videos on YouTube differ so much from the Billboard charts? Billboard charts have been an archaic form of determining what people are listening to. Until the last few years, charts were determined by record sales, even digital sales. Starting next year, Billboard counts YouTube streams will change how album charts are composed.
Billboard has announced that YouTube streams will be factored into the Billboard 200 albums chart starting early next year. Video streams from other platforms will also count, including Apple, Spotify, Tidal, and Vevo, and Billboard says the change will also impact genre album consumption charts, like country, Latin, and others. Billboard’s charts have historically been seen as a barometer of success within the music industry.
As Billboard counts YouTube streams, it is a slow change in charting success since consumption has changed within the last five years. With the rise of subscription services, sales of media is no longer a given. Especially since sales of physical media has dropped with many retailers shrinking (if not ditching) their physical media sections.
Billboard 200 chart will only count “official licensed video content uploaded by or on behalf of rights holders.” And as for any potential manipulation of the numbers, Billboard released a statement in 2017 saying it works closely with Nielsen Music to “assure there are safeguards in place to guard against automated streams and/or excessive streaming from singular IP addresses.”
As Billboard counts YouTube streams, it will be interesting to see how the numbers and the music changes on the charts. You could see many smaller bands begin to appear on the charts thanks to videos. It could mark a big change since MTV started impacting the ways albums were purchased. The changes are expected to kick in in January with charts dates January 18, 2020.