Billboard has allowed specific merch bundles from artists to be able to count on their album charts starting this summer.
“Bundling” is the act of selling merchandise along with a download of an album, usually for free, with the intention of boosting sales.
In 2020, Billboard excluded merch and album bundling when calculating its 200 and Hot 100 chart scores.
According to the publication, these specific bundles, referred to as “fan packs”, will allow fans to support their favorite artists on the charts but with “new rules” at play.
They have been put in place to “prevent issues that led to the elimination” of bundles in the past.
The Billboard 200 will count some package offerings of music and collectibles as fans seek to support their favorite acts through merch purchases https://t.co/xV3ku6cJwl
— billboard (@billboard) May 4, 2023
“The packs will be restricted to just two options per album release, a sweatshirt with an LP and a t-shirt with a CD, for example, with the requirement that each individual item must also be sold separately in the same web store,” Billboard said of the changes.
They continued: “Fan packs will include only merch, not tickets, meet-and-greet opportunities, virtual items or non-tangible benefits and they must also contain a physical copy of an album: Combinations of digital downloads and merch will not count towards the charts. In addition, fan pack offerings must be approved in advance of their on-sale date by Luminate and Billboard.”
The act of bundles was eliminated due to artists including their albums with anything and everything, from concert tickets to keychains, in an effort to boost sales numbers. According to the New York Times, at least 18 of the 39 titles to reach Number One on the Billboard 200 in 2018 used some sort of bundling tactic.
In 2019, Tyler, The Creator’s ‘Igor’ and DJ Khaled’s ‘Father of Asahd’ fought for the Number One spot on the charts. ‘Igor’ was able to claim the spot on the charts with its bundles while Billboard disqualified Khaled’s energy drink bundles through Shop.com sharing that the site and its parent company Market America were “encouraging unauthorized bulk sales.”
“Fan Pack offerings are a way to recognize the dynamic artist-fan relationship,” shared Silvio Pietroluongo, Billboard executive VP of charts and data partnerships. Pietroluongo also acknowledged that fan packs “provide an efficient one-click step for consumers to purchase merchandise and music.”