In a move sure to be controversial among pop’s upper echelon, Billboard has today announced that merchandise and concert ticket bundles no longer count towards album placements on the Billboard 200 albums chart. This means that albums received when fans purchase a t-shirt or concert ticket, for example, will not be reflected in any official tallies, regardless of whether the album price was built into the bundle cost.
In addition, physical album sales that include a digital download will now only count towards a sales tally when it is shipped. "This means that vinyl pre-orders — common practice, due to the long wait times for vinyl pressing — will no longer have the same significance they previously did. “In an acknowledgement that [previous] measures have fallen short of the intended goal of accurately reflecting consumer intent, [Billboard] has decided to eliminate the practice of counting albums bundled with merchandise and concert tickets on its album and song charts altogether,” the magazine wrote in an explanation of the changes. This is the second time Billboard has changed chart rules in regards to the way bundles are tallied; last November, the magazine announced that bundles which included albums had to be priced higher than individual merch items.