Big Mistake! Billboard's New Top 200 Doesn't Include YouTube Streams

Big Mistake! Billboard's New Top 200 Doesn't Include YouTube Streams

This week, Billboard Magazine announced HERE that they were including on-demand music streams in a new algorithm to calculate their Top 200 Albums Chart.  Excellent move.  It totally makes sense in today’s music industry.  Some key points of their announcement:

1.  1,500 on-demand streams of songs from the same album would be considered the equivalent of the sale of 1 album purchased, like as a CD in the old days.

2.  10 download purchases of songs from the same album would be considered the equivalent of 1 album sale.  All of these downloads could be the same song, or two songs, or any combination that leads to 10 downloads of tracks from the same album.

Big Mistake! Billboard's New Top 200 Doesn't Include YouTube StreamsThe downloads that count will come from legitimate retailers, like iTunes to Amazon.

Billboard/Nielsen is counting on-demand streams from Spotify, Beats, and Google’s All Access because these platforms offer $10 subscriptions, according to the Wall Street Journal HERE.

The surprising news, not mentioned in the Billboard announcement but uncovered in the Wall Street Journal article, is that on-demand streams from YouTube do NOT count.

I’ll repeat that in big font:

On-demand streams from YouTube do NOT count

Why?  This is what the article says:

YouTube views won’t count, he said, because the industry was concerned that too much of YouTube’s content was user-generated and therefore not “official.”  (The “he” in this text is Nielsen Entertainment analyst Dave Bakula.)

Hmm.  Did you know that YouTube streams DO count in calculations for the Hot 100 Singles Chart?

My question is this: If YouTube is “official” enough to be included in rankings for the individual hit songs, why is it not official enough to be included in rankings for hit albums?

This is a BIG Mistake on Nielsen’s part.

Big Mistake! Billboard’s New Top 200 Doesn’t Include YouTube Streams

Why is it a mistake?

YouTube is one of the most-trafficked website in the world.  According to, an Amazon-owned website that tracks web traffic, YouTube is the #3 website in both the United States and in the world.  But even more relevant, Nielsen themselves stated in 2012 HERE that YouTube is the third most dominant way in the United States that people discover music.  Nielsen makes the Top 200 Albums Chart.  They say that YouTube is bigger than Spotify and iTunes.  Yet they’re going to ignore YouTube because the videos uploaded aren’t “official enough”?

You’re telling me that if my fans put up my full album on the service and it gets 1,000,000 views, they don’t count toward my Top 200 Sales totals?  To me, a view is a view, whether Vevo uploaded the song to YouTube or Mary the Superfan.

Big Mistake! Billboard's New Top 200 Doesn't Include YouTube Streams

This feels dirty.  It feels like there’s something going on behind the scenes here that artists, managers and business managers are losing out on.  It feels like the labels, which fund Nielsen and, subsequently, the Top 200 chart, are in on this.  Which would lead to one conclusion:

It’s about the money; the labels getting, or keeping, more, and artists getting/receiving less.

While the Spotify wars rage on, this issue has kind of slipped in under the radar.  I can imagine it bubbling up to the surface as soon as enough artists and/or their representatives (Hello, Gene Simmons and Irving Azoff) collect significant data to back up my dirty feeling.

Next question: Who came up with the 1,500 streams = 1 album sale formula?  The article says that this ratio has come to be the industry standard, but it would be interesting to see who came up with this standard and what their methodology was.

The 10 downloads = 1 album makes more logical sense, as you can imagine most albums overall contain approximately 10 songs.

There’s more to come.  And if I’m completely wrong, I will shave my head into a mohawk and raise $1,000 for my local food bank.



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