Frank Ocean’s new album Blonde is set to debut at #1 on the Billboard 200 — yet another Apple Music exclusive! — but Billboard reports that Endless, the much looser “visual album” that he released less than 48 hours earlier to fulfill his contractual obligation to Def Jam, will not chart at all.
That’s not a comment on the works’ respective quality, although I think we can all agree that Blonde is better than Endless. No, Endless won’t be on the charts because it’s not actually an album, at least as Billboard and Nielsen Music define it. Essentially, it’s a 45-minute music video that’s available only to stream and not for purchase, and its tracks can’t even be streamed individually. Thus, there’s no data to put it onto either the Billboard 200 or the Music Video Sales chart, which tracks long-form videos available on home video (i.e. DVD or blu-ray).
There just isn’t any “industry-accepted album equivalent ratio for an entire visual album,” as Billbard points out. 1500 streams of songs on an album are accepted as equivalent to one album sale, but how many streams of a visual album are one album sale? “As the concept of the album continues to evolve, Billboard and Nielsen Music, in consultation with the industry, will continue to consider evolving chart policies to accommodate for the consumption of forward-thinking projects like Endless,” Billboard concludes. 2016, y’all!