First published on http://www.marketwatch.com/
Starting next week there will be new ways for artists to climb the Billboard 200 album chart: selling singles and racking up streams on Spotify, changes that could complicate the ways record labels time the release of big new albums with chart-topping potential.
Instead of simply tabulating album sales, Billboard, the music trade magazine, and its data provider, Nielsen SoundScan, will use a new formula to rank the country’s most popular albums, counting 1,500 song streams as the equivalent of one album sale. To qualify, the streams must occur on on-demand, subscription services such as Spotify AB, Apple Inc.’s Beats Music, and Google Inc.’s All Access, which charge about $10 a month. Streams on ad-supported radio services such as Pandora Media Inc. won’t count, nor will YouTube views, according to a person familiar with the matter.