Billboard Bans Bundling

Sound & Vision
Hosted by Emily Fox
Billboard announced this week that artists can no longer bundle album sales. Bundling is where an artist adds on, or “bundles” an album to a sale of a concert ticket or merch.

Billboard announced this week that artists can no longer bundle album sales. Bundling is where an artist adds on, or “bundles” an album to a sale of a concert ticket or merch. For example, a fan would buy a ticket to a concert or an artist T-shirt and the artist adds in an album to that purchase. The idea was to game the billboard chart and count that sale of a ticket or sweatshirt as an album sale. The more album sales, the better your chances are of charting on billboard. Chris Molanphy is a pop critic, chart analyst and host of Slate’s Hit Parade Podcast. He says bundling was a response to the streaming era of music.

“The reason the industry has been eager to do this bundling tactic is that a traditional sale of an album counts far more for the chart than a stream does,” Molanphy says.

However, Billboard is pushing back against the practice of musicians giving away albums for free when fans purchase tickets or merch.

“Where the bundling thing just got shady was it was largely industry gamesmanship and it really, in Billboards own words, was not capturing consumer intent. Really the consumer went to buy a ticket or they went to buy a t-shirt, they didn’t go to buy an album, the album was an afterthought and now they are trying the best they can to measure consumer intent with these rule changes,” Molanphy says.

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