Official US Billboard Chart Rules

  • Updated

Note: Need to Register your UPC with Luminate Data (formerly MRC/SoundScan)? You can do so HERE.

How sales get reported to Luminate Data (formerly MRC/SoundScan) and Billboard

The Chart Week:

  • Digital Releases powered by Single are automatically reported. We do not have the ability to report digital sales from other providers.
  • Physical Release requires tagging physical records in your inventory.

Note: Digital & Physical sales are reported automatically at 10am EST for the prior day and subject to certain criteria by Billboard & Nielsen.

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Example sales week. © Nielsen

  • The release date is the 10th in the example above.
  • Physical Releases shipped between Tuesday (the 7th) and the following Monday (the 13th) will be counted in the new chart week. This represents the Friday-Thursday sales week (10th - 16th), but makes an allowance for shipping time/receipt by customers.
  • Digital sales report daily starting on Street Date through the following Thursday. The digital cutoff is Thursday @ 12AM EST.
  • Physical and Digital pre-order sales are queued to report on Street Date.
  • Physical Releases (unless in pre-order status, then see the previous rule) are reported upon fulfillment - not date of purchase. Simply mark the order as “fulfilled” in Shopify and our system will automatically report the sale the following day.

Note: You can start fulfilling orders for a physical release the Tuesday before its release date in order to have them count towards week-one chart sales. The cutoff to report physical sales is 12AM ET on Mondays. If you are using a third party fulfillment system or application, Single is not responsible for any fulfillment delays or rate limits subjected by the third party.

 

Minimum Pricing:

  • Unit sales for albums priced below $3.49 at any point will not be eligible for inclusion on the Billboard album charts and will not count towards sales data presented by Luminate Data (formerly MRC/SoundScan).
  • Albums and EP's with 8 or less tracks are not eligible if the total price is less than the sum of the tracks, multiplied by $0.39.
  • Unit sales for digital and physical single tracks priced below $0.69 at any point will not be eligible for inclusion on Billboard’s charts and will not count towards sales data presented by Luminate Data.
  • Minimum pricing for a multi-disc physical album (not a single disc with extra tracks), where the extra disc is audio content, will be $3.49 times the amount of discs being made available.
  • If a title was priced under the minimum during a portion of the day, all sales for that title on that day will not count towards the Billboard charts unless accurate transaction data for that title during the specific sales hours can be provided to Luminate Data for verification.
  • If a retailer offering a title for less than the above stated prices is a daily reporter to Luminate Data, sales will be removed for charting purposes solely for the dates in which the title was priced less than the minimum.
  • If a retailer offering a title for less than the above stated prices is a weekly reporter to Luminate Data, all units for that title sold by the retailer in the week will be removed for charting purposes unless accurate transaction data for that title on the sale date(s) can be provided to Luminate Data for verification.

 

Bulk Rules:

Multiple Copies - Digital:

Only 1 purchase of any UPC or ISRC will be counted per customer, per reporting week (Friday - Thursday). If a customer buys more than 1 unit of any particular UPC or ISRC, the sale will be adjusted down to 1 unit.

Multiple Copies - Physical:

If a fan purchases up to 4 copies of a record (based on UPC) in a single reporting week (Tuesday - Monday), each copy is reported as an official sale. If a fan purchases 5 to 9 copies, this results in 4 charting album sales. Purchases of 10 or more albums constitutes a bulk sale, and none count towards the Billboard charts.

❗️IMPORTANT: Only 4 physical copies of a UPC may be reported PER CUSTOMER/EMAIL in one reporting week. Multiple orders by the same customer that add up to more than 4 copies purchased in one reporting week (Tuesday to Monday, including any potential pre-orders that may occur before release) will not result in more than 4 copies reporting. Each REPORTING WEEK, up to 4 copies may be purchased and reported by a customer/email for a single UPC.❗️

 

Merchandise and Ticket / Album Bundles:

ALBUMS:

  • Albums cannot report any sales generated from a bundle.
  • Album sales cannot be reported if bundled with merchandise or ticket to an artist event/concert – even if album and merchandise or ticket are available a la carte.
  • Merchandise is essentially anything that is not the album itself, including (but not limited to) clothing, paper goods, accessories, virtual items, concert pre-sale codes, access to merchandise or meet-n-greet opportunities, contest entries (with or without No Purchase Necessary entrance options), fan club access, and so forth.
  • Physical format albums sold within a finished goods boxed set/package, that may contain clearly artist/album-branded merchandise items), can continue to count as a sale as normal, following advance approval (minimum four weeks prior to release date).

Merchandise includes, but is not limited to:

  • Clothing.
  • Accessories.
  • Concert pre-sale codes.
  • Access to merchandise.
  • Meet and greet opportunities.
  • Contest entries (with or without "No Purchase" entrance options).
  • Fan club access.
  • Paper goods like signed art cards, additional signed CD booklets/inserts, etc.

*However, items such as clothing and paper goods may be contained within a finished goods physical album boxed set/package, and count as a sale, following advance approval (minimum four weeks prior to release date).

**Artist Signatures on pre-packaged physical albums are allowable if the signature is contained on the booklet or album packaging and not part of a loose item distributed along with the album.

***If an album includes a separate, additional signed insert that is packaged into the album (example: inside the jewel case CD/softpack, inside the vinyl LP jacket, inside the cassette inlay in its clamshell), such as a mini-poster or art card, this would be considered a boxed set/package and require a four-week advance approval and its own UPC code, as would any other album that is enhanced with additional merchandise and/or paper goods.

The following non-tangible, virtual and/or digital items are also considered to be merchandise:

  • NFT's.
  • Digital Album covers that may include personalized text/notes, animated or moving images, virtual or augmented reality capabilities.

*However, digital album covers can continue to have alternative digital covers that have been acceptable in the past, which may include static images, including printed static "digital signatures."

SINGLES:

Sales of singles/tracks are not reportable if bundled with merchandise. That includes any finished goods package.

Merchandise includes, but is not limited to:

  • Clothing.
  • Accessories.
  • Concert pre-sale codes.
  • Access to merchandise.
  • Meet and greet opportunities.
  • Contest entries (with or without "No Purchase" entrance options).
  • Fan club access.
  • Paper goods like signed art cards, additional signed CD booklets/inserts, etc.

The following non-tangible, virtual and/or digital items are also considered to be merchandise:

  • NFT's.
  • Digital Album covers that may include personalized text/notes, animated or moving images, virtual or augmented reality capabilities.

*However, digital song covers can continue to have alternative digital covers that have been acceptable in the past, which may include static images, but NOT a digital signature or any other virtual enhancement.

**Artist Signatures on pre-packaged physical singles are also NOT allowable.

Note: For more details on bundles and the rules around them, check out Luminate Data's (formerly MRC/SoundScan) helpful article HERE.

 

Physical/Digital Music Bundles:

ALBUMS:

  • Multiple formats of the same album can be bundled together (CD + Vinyl LP, CD + Digital Album, etc.). 
    • However, only one sale from each bundle is reportable. 
    • In a Physical + Digital Album combination, ONLY the physical sale is the reportable sale, when it is fulfilled to the customer. If there are more than one physical formats in a bundle, with a digital album, the first physical configuration in the bundle that is fulfilled to the customer will be the reported sale and configuration.
    • When two (or more) Physical Albums are part of the purchase (CD + Vinyl, for example), and no Digital Album, the first physical configuration in the bundle that is fulfilled to the customer will be the reported sale and configuration.
    • If there is only one format of an album sold (no bundle of multiple albums), then the sale continues to report as normal: when that album is fulfilled to the customer.
  • If the bundle includes multiple albums, and no other merchandise, it must be tracked as it's own, separate item. A Separate UPC must be registered, and the sales for the multi-album bundle must be reported under that UPC.

SINGLES:

  • Multiple formats of the same single can be bundled together (CD Single + Vinyl Single, Cassette Single + Digital Track, etc.). 
    • However, only one sale from each bundle is reportable. 
    • In a Physical + Digital Single/Track combination, ONLY the physical sale is the reportable sale, when it is fulfilled to the customer. If there are more than one physical configurations in a bundle, with a digital single/track, the first physical configuration in the bundle that is fulfilled to the customer will be the reported sale and configuration.
    • When two (or more) Physical Singles are part of the purchase (CD Single + Vinyl Single, for example), and no Digital Single/Track, the first physical configuration in the bundle that is fulfilled to the customer will be the reported sale and configuration.
    • If multiple copies of a digital song or track is sold as an item (example: a clean and explicit version of the same digital track), this would be reported under a single UPC, not by ISRC.
    • If there is only one configuration of a single sold (one CD single, one vinyl single, one cassette single; no bundle of multiple singles), then the sale continues to report as normal: when that single is fulfilled to the customer.

Adding an Album to a Purchase:

  • An album can be promoted as an add-on sale to a merchandise item or ticket – not baked-in to merchandise or ticket. Customer would make clear choice to purchase an album on its own, as a separate item, and album purchase must not yield any benefits or discounts to customer (this includes an album purchase yielding a discount on another album). Album price must be no lower than $3.49.

 

Incentivizing Music Purchases:

  • There can be no contesting or incentives to the consumer to buy music in return for  — or a chance to win access to — goods or experiences (whether virtual or actual), benefits or discounts of any kind. For the sake of clarity, the purchase of a music product (album, single, song/track, etc.) cannot yield a discount on the purchase of another music product. 

❗️THIS MEANS...❗️

1. You CANNOT offer discounts on merch of any kind or another music product (album, EP, single, etc.) to customers who purchase a music product (album, EP, single, etc.) from you.

(e.g. Offering a discount on a shirt to customers who are purchasing your album.)

 

2. You CAN offer discounts on music products (album, EP, single, etc.) to customers who purchase merch from you, as long as the final price of the music product does not go below the minimum price for eligibility ($3.49/album or $0.69/track.)

(e.g. Offering a discount on your album to customers who are purchasing a shirt.)

 

❗️IN REGARDS TO UPSELLS...❗️

This applies if you are using an Upsell tool:

You may not use an Upsell tool to offer discounts on merch to people who are purchasing a music product (album, EP, single, etc.).

You may use an Upsell tool to offer discounts on music products (album, EP, single, etc.) to people who are purchasing merch.

The purchase of a music product (album, single, song/track, etc.) cannot yield a discount on the purchase of another music product.

 

Boxed Sets:

  • A physical format album (CD, vinyl LP, cassette, etc.) sold within a finished goods boxed set/package (a package manufactured as a pre-set box, together with clearly artist/album-branded merchandise items, not a pre-pack of loose goods) can continue to count as a sale as normal, following advance approval (minimum four weeks prior to release date) from Luminate Data (formerly MRC/SoundScan) / Billboard. (Artist/album-branded merchandise allowances will not change from currently allowable branding elements.)
  • The boxed package must have its own unique UPC code separate from any other version of the album and must be submitted for pre-approval to Billboard and Luminate Data by the label or retailer at least four weeks in advance of the street date/release date of the package.
  • Boxed package sales are reported to Luminate Data upon shipment of the physical package to the customer, or sale to the customer at the point-of-purchase if in a brick-and-mortar environment.
  • If a digital download is included with the purchase, that is not the reportable album format.
  • If multiple physical formats of the same album are contained within a boxed package, the sale of the box only counts as one album sale.

Note: Read more about boxed sets HERE.

Note: For further details on the boxed set approval process, contact Luminate Data and Billboard.

 

In-Store Events / Pop-up Fan Experience:

  • Sales are eligible under certain circumstances and require prior approval. View the entire protocol HERE.

 

Reporting Album Sales from Live Shows:

  • Sales that take place at venues must be reported through atVenu. Luminate Data (formerly MRC/SoundScan) rules for reporting venue sales can be found in the atVenu Help Center

 

Resurrected Songs

Catalog songs are eligible to appear on Billboard's main multi-metric charts if ranking in the top half of each list and with a meaningful reason for their revivals, such as consistency of new levels of consumption, scope of virality on social media, label promotion and distribution, addition to current-music DSP playlists and more. Such factors, along with the amount of past chart history, also help determine catalog songs' eligibility for airplay charts.

Generally, catalog songs showing sustained growth in multiple metrics and with a significant reason for their resurgences (i.e., a movie or TV sync, TikTok interaction, label promotion) will be eligible for the Hot 100 if ranking in the top 50, as well as eligible for the top half of most of Billboard's "Hot"-named multi-metric song charts that use the same methodology as the Hot 100. Accordingly, catalog songs will also be considered for Billboard/Luminate's current-based radio airplay charts if showing sustained growth reflecting a significant reason for their resurgences, as well as the scope of such songs' radio promotion.

 

Miscellaneous: 

  • For digital-only deluxe editions, any extra content of 10 or more tracks would be considered the equivalent of an extra disc. Each additional 10 tracks thereafter would be the equivalent of an additional disc.
  • If the artist or artist representative purchases their own release, such sales will not be chart eligible.
  • Territory is determined based on billing and shipping address.

Note: Need to see an in depth overview of your sales and reported/unreported totals? Click HERE to find out how.

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