Billboard 200 Undergoes Makeover

Billboard has announced changes in the methodology of the Billboard 200 and R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts, while a new sales survey, Folk Albums, will join Billboard's chart menu.

Effective with the 2010 chart year, which begins with the charts that will be refreshed on billboard.com Thursday, Nov. 26 (print issue dated Dec. 5), the Billboard 200 will shift from a currents-based ranking of the weekly top-selling albums in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan, to an all-inclusive list of the top 200-selling albums, regardless of release date.

The Billboard 200 will continue to be a centerpiece of the chart menu on billboard.com and sister site billboard.biz. The latter site will also house the new Top Current Albums chart, which will implement the current/catalog criteria long utilized on the Billboard 200. That policy stipulates that an album that ranks below No. 100, is more than 18 months old and does not have a current charting single at radio is removed from that tally and other corresponding album charts on which it has appeared.

While the catalog rule will no longer apply to the Billboard 200, it will remain in effect on all other current-based Billboard album charts.

The Catalog Albums chart, which ranks sales of albums that do not meet the current criteria as outlined above, will continue to appear on billboard.com and billboard.biz.

"The events of 2009 and the continuing creativity in the repackaging of catalog titles have led us to the conclude that the Billboard 200 would be best served presenting the true best-sellers in the country, without any catalog-related rules or stipulations, to our readers, the media and music fans," says Silvio Pietroluongo, Billboard's director of charts.

"The ability of consumers to impulsively purchase new or catalog titles electronically has changed music sales behavior. There is a more immediate cause-and-effect between artist exposure and album sales in this day and age, and the Billboard 200 should reflect this activity, regardless of an album's release date."

Concurrent with the Billboard 200's change in methodology, the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart will alter its makeup with the dissolution of the R&B Core Store Panel, a select group of retailers that specializes in urban music. The chart will now recap overall album sales of current R&B/hip-hop titles, similar to the constitution of other genre album charts, such as Country Albums and Latin Albums.

Other R&B Core Store charts - Rap Albums and the billboard.biz-exclusive charts R&B/Hip-Hop Catalog Albums and R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Sales - will similarly now be ranked by overall sales.

A new chart, Folk Albums, concurrently joins the Billboard chart menu. The Nielsen SoundScan-based survey will house new releases from traditional folk-rock artists such as Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Ani DiFranco, Indigo Girls and Monsters of Folk, as well as appropriate titles by acoustic-based singer-songwriters such as Brandi Carlile, Rosanne Cash and Joshua Radin.

The 15-position Folk Albums chart will run periodically in print and appear weekly on billboard.com and billboard.biz.