In addition to announcing a #1 debut for Katy Perry’s Witness, Billboard’s report on this week’s Billboard 200 albums chart contains some news about a welcome policy change: As of this week, streaming data and individual track sales for various artist compilations will not count toward those compilations’ chart standing.
The move comes after titles such as Epic Records’ Epic AF comp began appearing in the top 10 last year. Epic AF was basically just a constantly evolving playlist of hit songs released on Epic. The label realized that it could game the system by throwing a bunch of its biggest tracks together on streaming platforms and calling it an album, so that any time listeners played smash hits such as DJ Khaled’s “I’m The One” on streaming platforms, it counted toward Epic AF’s stats. Furthermore, by constantly updating the content of the playlist to include more recent hits, Epic was able to indefinitely extend Epic AF’s shelf life on the charts. Because Billboard noticed similar releases such as Summer Latin Hits 2017 beginning to pop up near the top of the Billboard 200, they changed the rules so that those sorts of comps will only be able to crack the chart based on traditional album sales. Billboard has a more detailed explanation:
Three albums that were in the top 10 a week ago fall off the chart entirely. The Epic AF compilation [and] the Summer Latin Hits 2017 compilation… move off the list following a revision to how our consumption-based album charts rank various artists titles. Now, most various artists compilation albums will only be able to chart on the Billboard 200 and other consumption-ranked album charts based on traditional album sales. Track equivalent album (TEA) units and/or streaming equivalent album (SEA) units will no longer contribute to a various artists’ album ranking and unit count. In the latest tracking week, neither Epic AF or Summer Latin Hits 2017 sold enough in traditional album sales to rank on the Billboard 200.
Some various artists titles will continue to earn TEA and SEA: thematic multi-artist compilation albums which contain tracks specifically recorded for that project , like The Hamilton Mixtape, We Love Disney and some charity albums like Cover Stories: Brandi Carlile Celebrates 10 Years Of The Story. In addition, soundtracks and cast recordings will continue to receive TEA and SEA as applicable.
Unless you’re a conniving label exec, this is great news. As chart expert Chris Molanphy points out on Facebook, one of these comps probably would have gone to #1 eventually, which kind of defeats the point of having an album chart.