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Paid subscription streams will outweigh free streams on the Hot 100 and Billboard 200 beginning this summer

The charts will soon give more weight to music that people have paid money to hear. Billboard has announced that starting the week of June 29 to July 5, plays on paid subscription services (like Apple Music or Spotify Premium) will count for more than those on free, ad-supported services (like YouTube or basic Spotify).

Currently, Billboard’s Hot 100 songs chart takes into account only two types of streaming. “On-demand” services like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube (including video streams) count for more than “programmed” streams like Pandora‘s radio service. Under the new rules, paid subscription services will count for one full point per play, while free, ad-supported services will count for two-thirds of a point per play, and programmed streams will count for one-half of a point. After streaming, radio airplay is the next biggest part of the Hot 100 formula, followed by digital sales.

Meanwhile, the Billboard 200 albums chart right now counts 1,500 streams as the equivalent of an album sale, or “unit.” That’s regardless of whether the streams are from a paid subscription or a free, ad-supported service. (The Billboard 200 doesn’t include video streams or Pandora-style programmed streams.) With the upcoming changes, the Billboard 200 will count 1,250 streams as one album unit for paid subscription services. Free, ad-supported services will need 3,750 streams to equal one album unit. Free trial subscriptions that “offer the same access and functionality as a paid tier” will be counted the same as paid subscriptions.

The changes will come up for reconsideration beginning in October. Billboard said that starting next year, it also plans to break up paid subscription streaming into two additional tiers, where services that offer fully on-demand access to a full music library will count for more than other, more limited services.

The debate over free versus paid streams has been brewing for some time. Last September, Apple Music executives urged Billboard to make these types of changes, arguing that artists should be incentivized to create music their fans value with actual money. Shortly after Billboard announced plans to adjust the charts, YouTube’s global head of music, veteran record industry executive Lyor Cohen, criticized the move. “To me, the charts aren’t supposed to be the hottest paid records,“ Cohen told Pitchfork. “The charts are the hottest records, right?”

Source : Pitchfork