In the world of entertainment, streaming services are increasingly becoming the norm among consumers. Traditional cable providers, along with now-defunct brick and mortar video rental stores, found themselves utterly unprepared for the rise of juggernauts like Netflix. The music industry has faced a similar issue with streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify eating into album sales. Another area in which the entertainment industry has failed to adjust is in rating the popularity of individual songs.
There are signs that things are changing, however, as Billboard has announced that it is adjusting its ranking systems to give “greater emphasis to paid subscription streams.”
“Beginning in 2018, plays occurring on paid subscription-based services (such as Amazon Music and Apple Music) or on the paid subscription tiers of hybrid paid/ad-supported platforms (such as SoundCloud and Spotify) will be given more weight in chart calculations than those plays on pure ad-supported services (such as YouTube) or on the non-paid tiers of hybrid paid/ad-supported services,” the company’s website reads.
Billboard acknowledged that the music industry, particularly when it comes to how consumers obtain their music, has changed in recent years. In past decades, music fans really only had two options. They could either listen to the radio or go to the store and purchase physical albums. Now they have access to a wide range of different options such as YouTube Music and various ad-supported and subscription-based services, in addition to the traditional methods that still cling on.
Billboard says that its new methodology “is a reflection of how music is now being consumed on streaming services, migrating from a pure on-demand experience to a more diverse selection of listening preferences (including playlists and radio), and the various options in which a consumer can access music based on their subscription commitment.”
Measuring metrics aside, streaming services such as Spotify have become rather controversial among musicians in the industry. While there are many who feel that they help artists reach a larger fan base, others argue that it doesn’t pay artists enough for their music. Many artists, including Prince and Taylor Shift, even pulled their catalogs from Spotify in protest of the low pay.