When Lady Gaga’s Born This Way album was sold for 99 cents by Amazon earlier this year, it was controversial for several reasons, one of which being the likely impact on the US charts. Now Billboard Magazine and Nielsen SoundScan have responded with some new rules: unit sales for albums costing below $3.49 will no longer be eligible for the Billboard charts or SoundScan’s data in their first four weeks of release.
What’s more, individual tracks must now be sold for a minimum of $0.39 to be eligible. Amazon’s daily deals are clearly the main target for the rule-change, which will present a problem for labels keen not to see their acts charting lower, even if they are racking up big sales through Amazon. The changes come as Billboard’s charts face competition from a range of sources tapping into social media buzz as well as unit sales – something the magazine has responded to with its own Social 50 hotlist.