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What Billboard’s New Chart Rules Mean For Selena Gomez’s 2nd Album

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This year’s been a good one for women in pop — Ariana Grande’s thank u, next record helped her become the first solo artist to have three top spots on Billboard‘s Hot 100 list (“7 Rings,” “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored,” and “thank u, next”) and the album itself deputed at number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Taylor Swift’s Lover had similar results and also broke into the top spot on Billboard‘s Hot 200, among its other accolades.

However, it seems that Billboard’s execs have realized that the Hot 200 charts might not be the most accurate depiction of record sales — especially because artists like Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift sold their albums in bundles with their other merch as an added perk. (Harry Styles’s December 13th album release of Fine Line is set to do that same.) Thus, if someone bought — say, a “NASA” sweatshirt from Ari’s webstore, it came with a digital album and therefore was considered a record sale to be applied to the Hot 200 album charts for Billboard. Same goes for the four (!) unique Lover journals that Taylor released and included with an album sale within.

But now, Billboard has decided to keep up with the ~signs of the times~ and change its rules so that buying a sweatshirt from a webstore that just so happens to come with a digital download doesn’t count as a record bought for their purposes — starting on January 3, 2020 — which means Harry is safe from the changing directives.

“Moving forward, in order for an album sale to be counted as part of a merchandise/album bundle, all the items in the bundle must also be available for purchase concurrently and individually on the same website. In addition, the merchandise item sold on its own will have to be priced lower than the bundle which includes both the merchandise and the album,” Billboard announced on their website.

Unfortunately, this means that Selena Gomez, whose album debuts on January 10th, will have to abide by these rules. Theoretically her fans will want to buy her album and thus she should still be able to debut at number one. But it’s unclear just how big of a boost this bundling trend had on the record sales for Taylor, Ariana, and others like The Jonas Brothers, Madonna, Celine Dion, and Post Malone. But if next year we see a dip in overall album sales, we’ll know it wasn’t necessarily that Selena’s 2020 album or the ones that will debut from Normani, Niall Horan, or Lana Del Rey in the coming year were less successful that the ones in 2019. Instead, it’ll just be like comparing apples and oranges.

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