Charting Changes | What Do They Mean?


Last week, major changes were made to the way music charts are calculated, in response to the huge influence of streaming in recent years.

So what do all these changes mean for fans wanting to support artists on the charts?


On Monday June 25, 2018, BBC News announced the UK's landmark change to the way music charts are calculated: for the first time, streams from official music videos will count towards artists' charting efforts. While in the past, streams from music videos on YouTube, Apple, Tidal, and Spotify were not counted in official UK charts, now the officially sanctioned videos will become a vital aspect of charting possibilities. This will still not affect unsanctioned or user-generated videos that use the song's audio, but will greatly affect artists whose videos have taken on a life of their own.

For example, Luis Fonsi and Dua Lipa found widespread success after their videos went viral, with the first, "Despacito", reaching over 5.2 billion views worldwide. Similarly, “New Rules,” from the later, was the most-watched video by a British woman in 2017. This change will mark a dramatic shift for artists like these, who find that more users are interacting with their high-budget videos more than simply through traditional audio streaming.

Similarly, in the US, Billboard has also recently announced changes to their charting approach as well, with new changes favoring paid subscription services. Starting in July, “plays on paid subscription-based services (such as Apple Music and Amazon Music) or on the paid subscription tiers of hybrid paid/ad-supported platforms (such as Spotify and SoundCloud) will be given more weight in chart calculations than plays on ad-supported services (such as YouTube) or on the non-paid tiers of hybrid paid/ad-supported services.” This means that streaming on Apple Music or through a premium account of Spotify, designated as Tier 1, will be given more weight in impacting charts than streaming on YouTube, or non-premium Spotify accounts.

Additionally, Billboard will also add Pandora and iHeartRadio subscription streams to their charting algorithm as well. Although their radio stations remain unaffected, users specifically subscribed to their premium services will now be able to use their streams to count towards the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard 200 official charts.


So what does all this mean for Louis?

Well, first of all, it means that for those trying to help Louis chart in the UK, you'll find a lot less encouragement to play 8-hour playlists of his new singles, as new changes in the UK have determined that “once you've played a song 10 times in 24 hours, subsequent streams are not counted.” Similarly, the familiar ratio that 150 streams equals one “sale” will also be affected, as from Friday, June 29, “the ratio will drop to 100:1 for users on a premium subscription service; while the free rate shoots up to 600:1.”

Furthermore, although streaming Louis' music videos will most certainly incrementally help him  in the UK charts now that music videos are officially counted towards charts, data has shown that it is unlikely to affect his official charting position. This new change will only affect the music videos with the highest level of viral sensation. For video's like Childish Gambino's “This is America,” however, which recently found itself in a huge wave of discussion, including the video in the charts only found the song jumping about four places higher. The impetus remains on the singles' sales itself, rather than on video streaming.

Outside the UK, on the Billboard 200 chart, changes to streaming, and specifically their ratios, will also affect Louis' upcoming music. Their new streaming approach has determined that in Tier 1 (paid subscription streaming services), 1,250 streams will equal 1 album unit, and in Tier 2 (ad-supported audio streams), 3,750 streams will equal 1 album unit. Therefore, it will become even more vitally important to stream Louis' songs on premium plans and, when possible, buy the single itself, to increase its change of charting in the official Billboard charts.


For ease of understanding, we’ve summarised the changes below.

> Since Friday, 29 June, streams of official music videos now count towards official UK charts.

> Since Friday, 29 June the ratio of online UK streams also differs. Rather than 150 online streams equalling 1 sale, now:

>> On a premium prescription plan, 100 streams count as 1 sale.

>> On an ad-based plan, 600 streams count as 1 sale.

> There are now multiple tiers for the Billboard Hot 100, including:

>> Paid subscription streams (representing a full point value per play)

>> Ad-supported streams (representing a 2/3-point value per play)

>> Programmed streams (representing a 1/2-point value per play)

> The Billboard 200 album chart now includes two tiers:

>> Paid subscription audio streams (equating 1,250 streams to 1 album unit)

>> Ad-supported audio streams (equating 3,750 streams to 1 album unit)

> Pandora and iHeartRadio's paid subscription services are now part of the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard 200 album charts

> Pandora and iHeartRadio's programmed radio streams will remain excluded from the charts


So whilst this may seem more complicated, there are still plenty of ways Louis' fans can support him on the charts!


Written by Maree and Bridget | Edited by Rachel | Artwork by Miya