Billboard Officially Changes Merchandise/Album Bundling Rules

Following controversy with misleading sales numbers.

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Music
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Billboard recently announced a new policy surrounding the act of bundling — when artists offer merchandise paired with an album download that is usually included free of cost. Under current rules, bundles including merchandise with album downloads can boost album sales and chart positioning, even if the person purchasing the merchandise is not interested in obtaining the album.

Beginning January 3, 2020, however, albums included in a bundle must cost at least $3.49 USD. This means that a $50 USD merchandise item bundled with an album download must cost $53.49 USD in order to qualify as an album sale for Billboard’s charts.

Additionally, items included in bundles must now “be available for purchase concurrently and individually on the same website,” and bundles can only be sold via “an artist’s official direct-to-consumer web store and not via third-party sites.” This could be in direct response to last year’s DJ Khaled incident when Billboard disqualified many of the artist’s bundle sales due to partnering with a third-party website.

Elsewhere in music, we sat down with hip-hop veteran Sophia Chang to learn how she is subverting the model minority myth.

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