Billboard to adjust streaming services ‘weighting’ next year

Billboard, the music industry “bible,” says it will place greater emphasis to paid subscription streams with ad-supported activity remaining an “important factor” in the Billboard Hot 100, Billboard 200, and other charts.s Apple is among those streaming services.

Currently, Billboard has two defined types of streaming plays for the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart (and our other hybrid songs charts): on-demand (such as Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube) and programmed (such as Pandora and Slacker Radio), with on-demand having a greater weight. The Billboard 200 -- and the publication’s other consumption-ranked albums charts -- uses a single tier of only on-demand audio streams (paid or ad-supported) from subscriptions services. Video streams don’t contribute to the Billboard 200’s calculations, but are incorporated into the Hot 100.

Beginning in 2018, plays occurring on paid subscription-based services (such as Amazon Music and Apple Music) or on the paid subscription tiers of hybrid paid/ad-supported platforms (such as SoundCloud and Spotify) will be given more weight in chart calculations than those plays on pure ad-supported services (such as YouTube) or on the non-paid tiers of hybrid paid/ad-supported services.

In 2018, Billboard will have multiple weighted tiers of streaming plays for the Hot 100, which take into account paid subscription streams, ad-supported streams, and programmed streams. Streaming, along with all-genre radio airplay and digital songs sales data, make up the three metrics of the Hot 100’s methodology.

The Billboard 200 will now include two tiers of on-demand audio streams: paid subscription audio streams and ad-supported audio streams. The chart will continue to not incorporate video streams. The Billboard 200 ranks the most popular albums of the week based on multi-metric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums, and streaming equivalent albums.

The shift to a multi-level streaming approach to Billboard’s chart methodology is a reflection of how music is now being consumed on streaming services, migrating from a pure on-demand experience to a more diverse selection of listening preferences (including playlists and radio), and the various options in which a consumer can access music based on their subscription commitment.

Billboard says it believes that assigning values to the levels of consumer engagement and access - along with the compensation derived from those options - better reflects the varied user activity occurring on these services.