Billboard is changing its rules when it comes to chart numbers reflecting albums sold in merchandise bundles. All items included in a merchandise/album bundle must be available to purchase individually on the same website.
Additionally, merchandise sold must be priced lower than the bundle that includes both merch and the album. Billboard has also set the minimum price for an eligible album at $3.49. Billboard also requires that the bundles only be sold in an artist’s official direct-to-consumer web store. This leaves out artists that sell merchandise bundles on third-party sites.
The new rules go into effect on Jan. 3, 2020. All album releases on Jan. 3 and beyond must adhere to the new rules, as well as albums released before Jan. 3 that want to count further on the charts.
Billboard stated in their announcement that the rules changes come after recent public debates about the albums charts. Many argued that the bundled sales “do not reflect customer’s true interest in purchasing the album, but, rather the merchandise it’s packaged with”.
This May, Tyler, the Creator released IGOR which hit No. 1 on the album charts due to bundles sales. DJ Khaled’s Father of Asahd released the same day but sold fewer due to third-party website sales.
Tyler, the Creator isn’t the only artist who has taken advantage of bundle offers to reach No. 1 on the charts. Artists who topped the Billboard 200 this year with help from bundles include Kanye West, Post Malone, Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande and more.
As the rules take effect in the new year, it may create some more competitive races to the top of the Billboard album charts.