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Billboards Album Charts Don’t work

On any given week the Billboard Album Top ten will sift through seven or eight new albums that lat a week or maybe two, and then fall off. For every true phenomenon, like Taylor Swifts, there are dozens of albums that hit the top of the charts and are gone in two weeks, or hit the bottom of the charts and last a week. Hundreds of albums where 30K equivalent album units, an algorithm disaster of streams and sales, is a blip that works purely as a commercial. The singles charts is useful, if you hit the Hot 100 and definitely if you hit the singles top ten, you have cracked it. There were under 50 entries in the top ten singles in 2016. The albums? Over 250

That makes the album results, with exceptions, meaningless. This year the exceptions were Ed Sheeran, Kendrick Lamar, and Taylor Swift. The albums mean so little, two of the biggest stars of the last two years, Cardi B and Chance The Rapper haven’t released any albums at all. There is no hurry. It doesn’t matter. Luis Fonsi hit big but not on the album charts, he disappeared on the album charts. Justin Bieber had a huge year without releasing a new album.

The obvious answer here is that the album, the primary popular music currency for real artists since the late 1960s don’t matter anymore as such. Billboard is flogging a dead horse, they are releasing their album charts and they are surprisingly beside the point.

Why?

Streaming.

Streaming isn’t even really about singles, it is about songs and playlists and streams and the more streams the better. I am not saying that is Billboard’s fault. I am saying that the paradign for streaming needs to be centralized or changed, because it isn’t working for albums and what might be needed is a Billboard 200 solely for the most streamed songs.

Billboard have announced that they were going to put more weight to premium streams over free one, so I guess that lousy idea means there is still no end in sight.

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