Illustration by William Joel / The Verge
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.
Video streams have counted toward many of Billboard’s song-specific charts since 2013, but have never been incorporated into the albums chart. Billboard has been slowly updating its albums chart for years to shift it from being purely sales-based to a “multi-metric consumption” model. It added audio streaming to its album-ranking metrics five years ago, including Spotify, Google Play, and even Xbox Music. Billboard has considered whether video streams should count toward this chart for some time, but has always stuck with audio.
While song charts consider official videos and user-generated videos (like choreography videos, lyric videos, or even Memoji karaoke videos), the 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 streaming 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.”
The changes kick into effect next month, beginning with charts dated January 18th, 2020.