A New Era: YouTubes New Affect on Streams
Starting January 18th, the Billboard 200 chart will factor in another major platform for album sales, YouTube. The video sharing platform which has been around since 2006 is now going to have a direct affect on artists' careers.
The Billboard 200 chart has been the yardstick for success in the music industry since the 1960's and it is still viewed as a huge accomplishment for an artist to make an appearance on the chart. Since 2013, Billboard has counted YouTube streams to it's song-specific charts and audio streaming has been counted to its album-ranking metrics for the past five years, but as of January 3rd YouTube streams will play an even larger role, a legacy defining role: album sales.
Regardless of genre, album sales have played an integral role in how we view an artist's career. What do 2pac, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, & Micheal Jackson all have in common besides being all time great musicians who just so happen to be black? They all are among the top 50 billboard selling artists of all time.
Jay-Z is widely considered the greatest hip-hop artist of all time. Aside from his lyrical ability and all he's done as an entrepreneur in the game, his record of 13 number-one albums on the Billboard charts cements him as the GOAT.
Over the past decade, artists have had to transition from physical sales to streaming services. Now we enter a new age, the era of YouTube streaming.
"I'm the top on YouTube, fuck a new school, I don't use no Vevo" - YoungBoy Never Broke Again
The best example of the prominence that YouTube now has on an artist's career is Youngboy Never Broke Again. The Louisiana rapper has used the streaming platform to make himself the number-one viewed artist in the world regardless of genre, raking in an estimated $700k a month.
Compton's Roddy Ricch had the number one album in the country with "Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial" all while simultaneously having the number one single "The Box." According to Billboard, audio streaming made up about 91,000 units of the rapper’s total activity, while video streams from Youtube made up under 4,000 [at the time of this article].
However, according to YouTube Music Charts & Insights "The Box" is the number one music video, the top song, and top 10 in trending. Roddy is the third viewed artist on YouTube only trailing YoungBoy and the late, great Juice Wrld.
With YouTube streams being accounted for starting January 18th, the addition of those streams each week could have a monumental impact.
According to the NY Times, Billboard will give the same weight to YouTube streams as it does to those from Apple, Spotify or any other platform. With 1,250 clicks from a paying subscriber or 3,750 clicks from a nonpaying user being counted as the equivalent of one album sale (user-generated content will not be counted).
According to Deanna Brown, president of Billboard's Hollywood Reporter Media Group, "It's an important part of music consumption, and it's time to recognize that." Lyor Cohen, YouTube’s global head of music, stated, "Genres like latin, hip-hop and electronic, which consistently dominate the YouTube charts, will now be properly recognized for their popularity.”
Although Billboard is doing it's best to recognize the insane numbers artists are starting to accumulate via YouTube, it has the lowest payout for content creators.
However I commend Billboard for keeping up with the times and allowing artists a new way to break onto their charts. With YouTube streams playing a bigger role I expect that we'll get some creative visuals out of some of the top musicians this year.