Billboard has officially announced plans to reincorporate select merch bundles into its album charts beginning on June 30th.
This latest sales-eligibility pivot was just recently announced, after Billboard in the summer of 2020 revealed that its charts would cease factoring for merch- and ticket- related bundles. In a more than 600-word-long explanation of the latter decision, the outlet nearly three years back made clear that it had “decided to eliminate the practice of counting albums bundled with merchandise and concert tickets on its album and song charts altogether.”
In the interim, Billboard reiterated the no-bundle policy on multiple occasions – including when explaining that Donda 2, which Kanye West released exclusively on his $200 Stem Player, wouldn’t make its way onto the charts despite moving a number of copies and generating a substantial sum. (Some 15 months following its debut, the Player is continuing to sell on Ebay at present – albeit for a good amount less than its initial price.)
But the rules are set to change once again on June 30th (and for the charts dated July 15th), according to Billboard, which says that it will begin counting on charts “limited combinations of merchandise and physical albums.”
These limited combinations refer specifically to merch-album combos dubbed “fan packs,” which “will be restricted to just two options per album release.” Additionally, the various components of said options – a t-shirt with a CD and a sweatshirt with an album’s vinyl edition, for instance – must be available to purchase separately “in the same web store.”
Meanwhile, the fan packs can consist only of physical music projects (not digital downloads) and merchandise (excluding tickets, NFTs, meet-and-greet functions, and more), Billboard indicated. As another requirement for chart eligibility, the outlet as well as Luminate will have to approve the described fan packs “in advance of their on-sale date.”
Needless to say, it’ll be worth monitoring the byproducts of the decision, which certain acts with highly dedicated fanbases could potentially capitalize upon to improve their chart positioning. In a testament to K-pop diehards’ continued commitment to Hybe groups including BTS, for instance, the South Korean company relayed in its Q1 earnings report that the WeVerse social platform had topped 9.3 million monthly active users.
That’s nearly double the number of MAUs that WeVerse had as of 2021’s opening quarter, and later in 2023, these ultra-committed supporters (who are nevertheless taking issue with the dynamic ticket pricing model that Hybe is now employing) will be able to purchase subscription memberships on the service.