Billboard has announced it will no longer include albums bundled with merchandise and concert tickets in its album and song charts.

A Billboard No. 1 album is a widely sought-after accolade, which has driven artists to methods such as offering free downloads of new albums with concert ticket sales, as well as clothing or other merchandise to boost their numbers.

Under the new rules, all albums bundled with either merchandise or concert tickets must be promoted as an add-on to those purchases in order to be counted on the charts.

Albums and tickets with a single-price option with the album cost not listed to fans, will no longer be counted.

The firm said: “It is Billboard’s belief that the resulting charts will more accurately reflect consumer choice.”

The changes also mean digital sales bundled with a physical album or single will no longer be counted, eliminating the practice of using non-manufactured items to influence first-week chart rankings.

The latest rule changes will also halt the practice of selling vinyl, CDs and other physical releases that won’t be manufactured and shipped to consumers for weeks or months — while offering a digital download that can be redeemed instantly.

The announcement follows January’s Billboard chart changes, which will be superseded by the new rules, which included a requirement that albums bundled with merchandise be available for purchase concurrently and individually on the same website.

January’s rules also required that merchandise sold on its own be priced lower than bundles that included the album. In addition, merchandise/album bundles could only be sold on an artist’s official direct-to-consumer web store and not via third-party sites.

Image: Brandon Dull