We were intrigued this morning by a slightly-defensive article on Billboard titled ‘Clearing up ‘Free Streams’ on the charts’, published in response to “misinformation posted online” about its albums-chart methodology.
The gist: pointing out that it has been counting free on-demand streams towards the chart since 2014, and that “Billboard does not currently have in place any rule or rules dictating how an approved streaming chart contributor can present or promote content on their services. Nor have we placed certain considerations or restrictions on how we would count those resulting streams on our charts.”
We couldn’t help wondering what spurred this, and investigations quickly led to Tidal. It has made rapper Meek Mill’s new album ‘Wins & Losses’ available to stream in front of its paywall, in a week when it’s facing stiff competition from new albums by Lana Del Rey and Tyler, The Creator.
Cue Tyler tweeting (possibly mischievously) a conspiracy theory. “Damn Tidal got albums playing before a paywall which makes me think n****s can have bots spiking up plays for Billboard on Friday hmm”.
An accusation that Billboard has tried to address, promising an “intensive vetting process” from chart partner Nielsen Music to weed out automated streams and bot spiking.
tl;dr: Fake chart-boosting! Sad!!