Photo via david_hwang/Flickr (CC-BY)
Billboard announced that while it expects Ocean’s independently released endeavor, Blonde, to top the Billboard 200 charts, his visual album, Endless, won’t be counted—at least for the time being. It explained the reasoning behind the decision in a post published to Billboard’s website Saturday. According to Billboard, it’s all in the formatting.
“Because Endless is not for sale—at least, not at the moment—and none of its tracks are individually available to purchase or stream (only the full 45-minute project is streamable), there is no data to drive it onto either the Billboard 200 or the Music Video Sales chart, the latter of which ranks the week’s top-selling long-form videos available on home video (DVD, blu-ray, etc.),” Billboard said.
While an album’s exclusivity to a streaming site hasn’t been an issue with Billboard since it started counting streams toward the Billboard 200 nearly two years ago, Endless, which was released Aug. 19, presents unique circumstances it hasn't yet encountered. Because it’s one 45-minute music video that doesn’t offer its songs for purchase, it won’t count.
If Endless does release its songs for purchase on places like iTunes or as a physical album, then Billboard will start tallying up those listens. Blonde, on the other hand, has a set list of tracks to stream and purchase on Apple Music and iTunes, thus making the Billboard 200.
It’s a decision sure to cause some wrinkles for music enthusiasts, and some critics may even point out that Lemonade, Beyoncé’s visual album that dropped earlier this year, did top the Billboard 200. But, as Billboard explained, that included streams and sales of Lemonade but didn’t include the Emmy-nominated visual album that aired on HBO prior to the album’s release.
Billboard does admit that it will have to adapt and address how to count streaming of full-on visual albums like Endless in the future.
“As the concept of the album continues to evolve, Billboard and Nielsen Music, in consultation with the industry, will continue to consider evolving chart policies to accommodate for the consumption of forward-thinking projects like Endless,” it said.