Effective with the 2010 chart year, which commences with the issue dated Dec. 5, 2009, the Billboard 200 will shift from a currents-based ranking of the United States' top selling albums to an all-inclusive list of the top 200-selling albums in the country, regardless of release date.

In essence, the Billboard 200 will reflect the Nielsen SoundScan sales data that has populated the Top Comprehensive Albums chart, which has appeared in the magazine periodically this year and has resided in the billboard.biz chart menu the past three years. Replacing the Top Comprehensive Albums chart online will be Top Current Albums, which will utilize the current/catalog criteria that has fueled the Billboard 200 in recent years. That rule, in place since 1991, stipulates that an album that ranks below No. 100 on the chart, is more than 18 months old, and does not have a current charting single at radio, would be removed from the Billboard 200 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 album charts.

"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."

If last week’s Billboard 200 were based on overall sales, 11 of the top 100 titles, and 35 titles on the entire chart, would be considered catalog.

"The Comprehensive Chart that Billboard is publishing provides an extensive overview of all sales and popular taste and culture," said Eric Weinberg, president of Nielsen Entertainment. "Nielsen Music and SoundScan remain committed to developing methodologies that accurately reflect our industry and its ongoing changes and evolution to the benefit of our clients."

Concurrent with the Billboard 200's methodology change, the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart will also alter its makeup beginning with the 2010 chart year with the dissolution of the R&B Core Store Panel, a select group of retailers that specialize in urban music. Effective with the Dec. 5, 2009, issue, Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums will be based on overall album sales of current titles, similar to how our other genre charts are constituted (Country, Latin and Jazz, for example). Other R&B Core Store charts, Rap Albums, R&B/Hip-Hop Catalog Albums and R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Sales will also now be ranked based on overall sales.

Lastly, Billboard will be adding a new chart, Folk Albums, to its menu. The Nielsen SoundScan-based survey will house new releases from traditional folk artists such Joan Baez, Ani DiFranco and Monsters of Folk, as well as appropriate titles by acoustic-based singer-songwriters such as Carly Simon, Rosanne Cash and Joshua Radin. The 15-position chart, to be managed by Gary Trust, will run periodically in print and appear weekly on billboard.biz and billboard.com.

"Billboard's Folk Albums chart will reflect retail activity of a niche genre with a rich history. Folk artists are among the most insightful songwriters and intimate storytellers in music, and we're proud to offer a chart highlighting their sales achievements," says Trust, who can be reached at gtrust@billboard.com.

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