Billboard shifting how it charts Apple Music and other streaming services next year

Billboard has announced that it will adjust how it weights and calculates streaming music starting in 2018. Changes will include more weight given for paid music services like Apple Music than ad-supported services.

In an article describing all of the changes to come, the company said “it is our goal at Billboard to accurately portray in an unbiased manner how music performs relative to other music.”

As we recently reported, music revenue is up 17% for the first half of the year thanks to streaming music, which made up over 60% of the revenue. With these trends, Billboard recognized the need to revisit how it weights the variety of digital music services.

This has been an especially challenging year for these deliberations, as we are seeing rapid adoption of new streaming and distribution models that are changing user experience and behavior at an unprecedented pace.

Billboard took a variety of factors in to account, like how to weight paid services compared to ad-supported, free streams, YouTube plays, and more.

As it stands, The Billboard 200 chart (among other similar consumption based charts) “uses a single tier of only on-demand audio streams (paid or ad-supported) from subscriptions services.

In contrast, the Billboard Hot 100 chart defines two types of streaming, on-demand paid services like Apple Music and programmed (Pandora) with on-demand being weighted more heavily.

Next year, one of the main changes will be paid services receiving a greater weight than fully ad-supported ones.

Beginning in 2018, plays occurring on paid subscription-based services (such as Amazon Music and Apple Music) or on the paid subscription tiers of hybrid paid/ad-supported platforms (such as SoundCloud and Spotify) will be given more weight in chart calculations than those plays on pure ad-supported services (such as YouTube) or on the non-paid tiers of hybrid paid/ad-supported services.

The Hot 100 chart will change to use multiple weighted tiers of streaming music to determine rankings including paid subscription, ad-supported, and programmed streams. The Billboard 200 will be updated to recognize paid subscriptions versus ad-supported services.

A recent survey showed Apple Music to be the least popular music service overall, but did indicate that it’s the most popular music service for 18-24 year olds. Apple executive Jimmy Iovine recently shared his thoughts on evolving Apple Music and that it currently “isn’t good enough”. Most recently, Billboard shared that Apple Music has 30 million subscribers.

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