How Much Music Do You Need To Sell To Get On Billboard Charts
by on March 29, 2016 in DIYmusician

There are a variety of charts on Billboard like Heatseeker Albums, Top Current Albums, Digital Albums, Independent Albums, and the Digital Tracks chart.

Billboard publishes a host of charts that are individually or collectively based on key fan interactions with music, including album sales and downloads, track downloads, radio airplay and touring as well as streaming and social interactions on Facebook, Twitter, Vevo, Youtube, Spotify and other popular online destinations for music. These measurements are tracked year-round by Billboard and its data partners, including Nielsen BDS, Nielsen SoundScan and Next Big Sound.

In order for artists and title to chart in Billboard, they must be among the higher ranked performers among the specific metric used to compile the chart.

Sometimes it takes less than 1000 albums in one week to make a Billboard Chart, even 450 sales could make it to #200. Surprisingly enough, many unsigned artists have hit the Billboard Charts this way.

Sales up to the release date of your CD count towards your 1st week sales that’s why pre-order’s of your album are so important, your sales prior to the actual release date of the album count as first week sales.

On Billboard the charts reflect weekly sales and streams on a Friday-to-Thursday cycle. However, the mixed data charts, such as the Billboard Hot 100, use an radio airplay cycle of Monday to Sunday. Charts are refreshed every Tuesday on billboard.com and billboard.biz and the issue date is four days later on Saturday.

For example:  Charts posted on Tuesday the 24th of the month (with an issue date on Saturday the 27th) is based on the previous Friday-to Thursday cycle (12th-18th).

How many sales do I need to get into the Billboard charts?

Billboard has a lot of different charts based on a number of factors (see the legend below for the details of each chart), including physical sales, digital downloads, radio airplay and streaming. How many “sales” you’ll need to break into any of Billboard charts depends on a a mix of all of those factors and will probably depend on how well other artists releases are doing on that particular week.

Don’t forget to register your music with Nielsen Soundscan if you don’t have a distributor. Soundscan reports to Billboard and the entire music industry. Bandcamp is a great distributor and reports your sales info to Soundscan.

Real-time Billboard Stats: https://www.billboard.com/charts

Check iTunes sales here: http://www.digitalsalesdata.com/

And this tool here has a lot of info: kworb.net

Billboard Charts Legend

GENERAL INFORMATION

SALES
Data for Billboard’s sales charts, which include all album charts are compiled by Nielsen Music from a universe of retailers that represents more than 90% of the U.S. music retail market.

The sample includes not only music stores and the music departments at electronics and department stores, but also direct-to-consumer transactions and Internet sales (both physical albums via Internet, and ones bought via digital downloads). A limited array of verifiable sales from concert venues is also tabulated. All sales charts use the entire Nielsen Music panel.

The Nielsen Music system utilizes that same point-of-sale that music merchants use to track their inventory, so an itemized receipt from one’s last visit to a music retailer essentially doubles as a ballot cast for our charts.

AIRPLAY
Billboard’s radio charts are compiled using information tracked by Nielsen Music, which electronically monitors radio stations in more than 140 markets across the United States. The Nielsen Music system looks for an audio fingerprint, i.e. a characteristic that differentiates a song from all of the other ones that it tracks.

Certain airplay charts are based on the number of plays that each song received in a given format that week: Mainstream Top 40, Adult Contemporary, Adult Top 40, Alternative, Triple A, Active Rock, Heritage Rock, Mainstream Rock, Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop, Rhythmic, Adult R&B, Christian AC Songs, Gospel Songs, Dance Airplay and Smooth Jazz Songs. Others are based on audience impressions: Hot 100 Airplay, Rock Airplay, Country Airplay, Rap Airplay, Christian Songs, Latin Airplay and Latin airplay charts.

The audience charts cross-reference Nielsen Music data with listener information compiled by the Arbitron ratings system to determine the approximate number of audience impressions made for each play. Thus, a song that plays at 4 a.m. does not count as much as one played at 4 p.m., and a station with a large audience will influence the chart more than either a station in a smaller market or one with a specialized format that attracts less audience.

With few exceptions, stations tracked for Billboard by Nielsen Music are commercial stations.

STREAMING DATA
Billboard compiles two streaming charts. Streaming Songs ranks the week’s top streamed radio songs and on-demand songs and videos on leading online music services.

Hot 100 Airplay, Hot Digital Songs and Streaming Songs data is used to compile the Hot 100. On-Demand Songs ranks the top on-demand play requests and plays from unlimited listener-controlled radio channels on leading music subscription services.

MIXING DATA
While many of the charts in Billboard are either pure sales or radio charts, we mingle sales, radio and streaming data on a few of our signature charts: the Billboard Hot 100, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, R&B Songs, Rap Songs, Hot Country Songs, Hot Rock Songs, Hot, otDance/Electronic Songs, Hot Christian Songs and Hot Gospel Songs  (as well as two charts based on the same data feeds as the Hot 100: the Hot 100’s Bubbling Under chart, which ranks the top 25 titles that have not yet reached the Hot 100).

We use these three pools of data because while the consumer’s decision to purchase or stream is a significant vote of popularity, singles have a job that extends beyond being a sales vehicle: to capture radio play and, hopefully, stimulate album sales.

These hybrid charts each use formulas to mix Nielsen Music sales with audience and streaming data. The Hot 100 utilizes the a la carte sale of downloaded tracks with sales of the few retail-available singles that are still shipped to stores. The chart also factors in streaming audio and video data (both on demand and passive) from all popular formats monitored by Nielsen Music.

ADDITIONAL CHARTS
There are a few Billboard charts that are made up of data from different sources. Here’s how other charts are compiled:

Billboard’s Social 50 chart ranks the most active artists on the world’s leading social networking sites. Artists’ popularity is determined by a formula blending their weekly additions of friends/fans/followers with artist page views and weekly song plays, as measured by Next Big Sound.

The Dance Club Songs chart is compiled from reports from a nationwide panel of club DJs, detailing the tracks that elicit the most audience response.
Billboard’s Smooth Jazz Songs chart combines airplay data from stations monitored by Nielsen Music with those that submit playlist reports online.

The Christian Hot AC/CHR, Christian Rock, Christian Soft AC and Christian AC Indicator charts are compiled from playlist reports that stations playing those genres of music submit online.

THE CHART WEEK
Generally, charts reflect sales and airplay between Monday and Sunday of any given week. However, the mixed data charts, such as the Billboard Hot 100, use an airplay cycle of Wednesday through Tuesday.

Charts are refreshed every Thursday on billboard.com and billboard.biz and reflect the date of the Billboard issue in which they appear; online-only charts display the same corresponding date.

The printed magazine first reaches newsstands on Friday. Each issue is dated based on the end of its publication week. Thus, the Billboard that reaches newsstands on Friday, March 19, for example, is dated Saturday, March 27.

AWARD CERTIFICATION LEVELS

ALBUM CHARTS

Recording Industry Assn. of America (RIAA) certification for physical shipments & digital downloads of 500,000 albums (Gold).

RIAA certification for physical shipments & digital downloads of 1 million units (Platinum). Numeral noted with Platinum symbol indicates album’s multi-platinum level.

RIAA certification for physical shipments & digital downloads of 10 million units (Diamond). Numeral noted with Diamond symbol indicates album’s multi-platinum level.

Latin albums certification for physical shipments & digital downloads of 30,000 units (Oro).

Latin albums certification for physical shipments & digital downloads of 60,000 units (Platino). Numeral noted with Platinum symbol indicates album’s multi-platinum level.

DIGITAL SONGS CHARTS

RIAA certification for 500,000 paid downloads and on-demand streams where 100 streams equal 1 download (Gold).

RIAA certification for 1 million paid downloads and on-demand streams where 100 streams equal 1 download (Platinum). Numeral noted with Platinum symbol indicates song’s multi-platinum level.

Read more: Billboard Charts Legend

Some other cool facts

marchchart2016 On June 25, 2015, Billboard and Nielsen changed the chart reporting period to cover the first seven days of an album’s release. As a result of the changes, The Billboard 200, Top Albums Sales, Genre-based albums, Digital Songs, genre-based downloads, Streaming Songs, and genre-focused streaming surveys will run on a Friday to Thursday cycle.

On February 20, 2013, Billboard announced another change in the methodology for their charts that incorporated YouTube video streaming data into the determination of ranking positions on its streaming charts. The incorporation of YouTube streaming data enhanced a formula that includes on-demand audio streaming and online radio streaming. (Source)

Billboard publishes a host of charts that are individually or collectively based on key fan interactions with music, including album sales and downloads, track downloads, radio airplay and touring as well as streaming and social interactions on Facebook, Twitter, Vevo, Youtube, Spotify and other popular online destinations for music. These measurements are tracked year-round by Billboard and its data partners, including Nielsen BDS, Nielsen SoundScan and Next Big Sound. In order for artists and title to chart in Billboard, they must be among the higher ranked performers among the specific metric used to compile the chart. Specific methodologies can be found on each chart page on billboard.com and on the Chart Legend reference page on billboard.biz.(Source)

(Update August 2018)

Beginning June 29th 2018, the Billboard Hot 100 (which tracks songs via sales, radio play and streaming) will take on the following point system for streaming:

  • one full point per play for paid subscription streams
  • two-thirds of a point per play for ad-supported streams
  • one-half of a point per play for programmed streams

And the Billboard 200, which tracks albums, will have two tiers:

  • paid subscription audio streams (equating 1,250 streams to one album unit)
  • ad-supported audio streams (equating 3,750 streams to one album unit)

Previously, paid and ad-supported (or “free”) streams had entirely equal weight in both charts. Under the new rules, paid streams carry substantially more value than other kinds. So a song that gets played 100 times on a subscription service will collect 100 points, for instance, but will only snag 66 points if played on a free service. Free plays are even further penalized on the albums chart, where it will take three times as many free plays of one track to equate to one paid play.

From Billboard.com:

“Currently, Billboard has two defined types of streaming plays for the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart (and our other genre-specific 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 albums chart — and our other genre-based consumption-ranked albums charts — uses a single tier (equating 1,500 streams as one album unit) for on-demand audio streams (paid or ad-supported) from subscription services. Video streams and programmed audio streams do not contribute to the Billboard 200’s calculations, but are incorporated into the Hot 100.

Beginning with the first week of Nielsen’s third quarter of 2018 (sales and streaming week of June 29 to July 5, which will be reflected on Billboard charts dated July 14), 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.

Billboard will have multiple weighted tiers of streaming plays for the Hot 100, which take into account paid subscription streams (representing a full point value per play), ad-supported streams (representing a 2/3-point value per play) and programmed streams (representing a 1/2-point value per play). Those values are then applied to the chart’s formula alongside all-genre radio airplay and digital song sales data. Streaming remains the most dominant factor on the chart, followed by radio airplay and digital sales in descending order of significance.

The Billboard 200 will now include two tiers of on-demand audio streams. TIER 1: paid subscription audio streams (equating 1,250 streams to 1 album unit) and TIER 2: ad-supported audio streams (equating 3,750 streams to 1 album unit).

Streams from trial subscriptions that offer the same access and functionality as a paid tier will be considered TIER 1. At this juncture, the Billboard 200 will continue to not incorporate video streams. The Billboard 200 ranks the most popular albums of the week based on multimetric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (equating 10 sold tracks to 1 album unit), and streaming equivalent albums.

Beginning in 2019, the Billboard 200 will further separate paid subscription audio streams into two distinctive tiers, with the higher tier including paid subscriptions that provide full music library access and no restrictions on on-demand functionality and a secondary tier that reflects paid subscriptions that provide a partial music library and/or limited on-demand functionality. Beginning in the fourth quarter of 2018, the ratios for all the streaming tiers will be re-evaluated, with any changes implemented at the start of 2019.” (1)

1. Billboard Finalizes Changes to How Streams Are Weighted for Billboard Hot 100 & Billboard 200

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