In new rules issued this week, Billboard Magazine declared that unit sales for albums priced below $3.49 will no longer be eligible for the Billboard charts and won't be counted in Nielsen SoundScan sales data during their first four weeks of release. EPs and individual songs must now also sell for $.39 or more per track to be counted. The new rules may be in response to Amazon's Lady Gaga 99 cent sale, but also serve to discourage artists and labels from using price as a marketing tool.
As the most widely read charts in the world, Billboard and Nielson Soundscan once set the standard for measurement of music sales and airplay success. But broader metrics from Big Champagne and others, along with specialty charts from niche music services like Beatport are successfully challenging Billboard's dominance.
Billboard's New Pricing Policy, Effective November 21, 2011
Unit sales for Albums priced below $3.49 during their first four weeks of release will not be eligible for inclusion on the Billboard album charts and will not count towards sales data presented by Nielsen SoundScan.
- The rule also applies to reissued titles.
- New Holiday/Seasonal titles must meet the minimum threshold through the final week of the calendar year.
- Unit sales for albums or EPs with 8 or less tracks will not be eligible for charting if the retail price is less than the sum of the tracks on the release, multiplied by $0.39.
- Minimum pricing for a multi-disc album (not a single disc with extra tracks), where the extra disc is audio content, will be $3.49 times the amount of discs being made available.
- For digital-only deluxe editions, any extra content exceeding nine tracks would be considered the equivalent of an extra disc. Each additional 10 tracks thereafter would be the equivalent of an additional disc.
Unit sales for Digital Tracks priced below $0.39 during their first three months of release will not be eligible for inclusion on Billboard's digital songs charts.
If a retailer offering a title for less than the above stated prices is a daily reporter to Nielsen SoundScan, units will be removed for charting purposes solely for the dates in which the title was priced less than the minimum.
- If a title was priced under the minimum during a portion of the day, all sales for that title on that day will not count towards the Billboard charts unless accurate transaction data for that title during the specific sales hours can be provided to Nielsen SoundScan for verification.
If a retailer offering a title for less than the above stated prices is a weekly reporter to Nielsen SoundScan, all units for that title sold by the retailer in the week will be removed for charting purposes unless accurate transaction data for that title on the sale date(s) can be provided to Nielsen SoundScan for verification .
Please note that the minimum pricing rule would not apply to any store-wide music liquidation sales.