Billboard Changes How It Counts Album Sales For Merch Bundles
In order to chart on a Billboard chart, you need to sell albums (or have streaming equivalents). In order to gain album sales, you need sell your damn album. One of which methods is a merchandise bundle, which Billboard has announced they're revising come January 3, 2020.
According to the new rules, merchandise bundles only count if they meet the following rules:
- All items in a bundle must be available for purchase individually outside the bundle.
- The individual merchandise item sold on its own will have to be priced lower than the bundle, which includes both the merchandise and the album.
- Merchandise bundles can only be sold in an artist's official direct-to-consumer web store and not via third-party sites.
There's also the issue of pricing.
Under current rules and moving forward, any approved piece of merchandise that is clearly artist- or album-branded can be bundled with a copy of the album, with those sales counting for the charts when the physical album is shipped to the customer or when the digital album is fulfilled to the customer. However, the merchandise/album bundle must be priced at least $3.49 more than the merchandise item alone. ($3.49 is the minimum price of an album to qualify for the charts.)
Interestingly, the January 3 date works retroactively. So if you've got an album that goes up for pre-sale in December and you're looking to make the Billboard charts, then you need to follow those rules already.