In a move that surprised chart watchers and could have an impact on how new music charts, earlier this week Billboard Magazine announced that their Billboard 200 chart will change significantly starting with the December 5 issue. With that week’s chart, catalog albums will appear alongside current albums on the list, which ranks the top 200 albums sold that week. Currently any album ranking below 100 that’s 18 months old and doesn’t have a current charting single is removed from the chart.
What are the implications of this? Well, for one, expect to see a lot of Greatest Hits albums on the chart. And when an event happens, like Michael Jackson’s death/concert film or the Beatles catalog being re-released, expect to see multiple titles from artists on the chart. You’ll also see albums that consistently sell copies, like AC/DC’s Back In Black and GN’R's Appetite For Destruction, popping up. The down side is relatively small. For the last year or so, any band that sold 2,500 copies or so in their first week had a pretty good chance of cracking the top 200. The bar has been raised now – with the number of catalog titles that would be in this past week’s top 200 (35), that’s 35 new/existing albums that wouldn’t be in the chart.
This is a good move, in our opinion. It reflects how people that still buy music purchase it. Many music fans will opt for a greatest hits album over buying a full album. And there are classic albums that people will always buy. It’s about time there’s a chart that reflects that.
(full disclosure, this post’s author worked used to work at a Billboard-affiliated magazine).