Album-equivalent unit

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The standard of an album-equivalent unit in the United States, according to the RIAA. US album equivalent unit.png
The standard of an album-equivalent unit in the United States, according to the RIAA.

The album-equivalent unit is a measurement unit in music industry to define the consumption of music that equals the purchase of one album copy. [1] [2] This consumption includes streaming and song downloads in addition to traditional album sales. The album-equivalent unit was introduced in the mid-2010s as an answer to the drop of album sales in the 21st century. Album sales more than halved from 1999 to 2009, declining from a $14.6 to $6.3 billion industry. [3] For instance, the only albums that went platinum in the United States in 2014 were the Frozen soundtrack and Taylor Swift's 1989, whereas several artists did in 2013. [4] [5]

Music industry companies and individuals that create and sell music

The music industry consists of the companies and individuals that earn money by creating new songs and pieces and selling live concerts and shows, audio and video recordings, compositions and sheet music, and the organizations and associations that aid and represent music creators. Among the many individuals and organizations that operate in the industry are: the songwriters and composers who create new songs and musical pieces; the singers, musicians, conductors and bandleaders who perform the music; the companies and professionals who create and sell recorded music and/or sheet music ; and those that help organize and present live music performances.

Album collection of recorded music, words, sounds

An album is a collection of audio recordings issued as a collection on compact disc (CD), vinyl, audio tape, or another medium. Albums of recorded music were developed in the early 20th century as individual 78-rpm records collected in a bound book resembling a photograph album; this format evolved after 1948 into single vinyl LP records played at ​33 13 rpm. Vinyl LPs are still issued, though album sales in the 21st-century have mostly focused on CD and MP3 formats. The audio cassette was a format used alongside vinyl from the 1970s into the first decade of the 2000s.

Streaming media continuous multimedia operated and presented to users by a provider

Streaming media is multimedia that is constantly received by and presented to an end-user while being delivered by a provider. The verb "to stream" refers to the process of delivering or obtaining media in this manner; the term refers to the delivery method of the medium, rather than the medium itself, and is an alternative to file downloading, a process in which the end-user obtains the entire file for the content before watching or listening to it.

Contents

The usage of the album-equivalent units revolutionized the charts from the "best-selling albums" ranking into the "most popular albums" ranking. [6] The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) have used album-equivalent unit to measure their Global Recording Artist of the Year since 2013. [7]

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) is the organisation that represents the interests of the recording industry worldwide. It is a non-profit members' organisation registered in Switzerland and founded in Italy in 1933. It operates a Secretariat based in London, with regional offices in Brussels, Hong Kong and Miami.

The Global Recording Artist of the Year is an award presented by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) to honor the most popular recording artist based on a total of album-equivalent units, which include music downloads, streaming and physical format sales. It has been awarded every year since January 2014, with British boy band One Direction becoming the first act to receive the accolade for Global Recording Artist of 2013. This success was attributed to the band's third studio album, Midnight Memories, which became the best-selling album of the year with sales of four million copies worldwide. The music videos for its singles, "Best Song Ever" and "Story of My Life", had been watched almost 200 million and over 100 million times, respectively, on YouTube up to that point. Taylor Swift was awarded the Global Recording Artist of 2014 after the commercial success of her fifth studio album, 1989. During the year, the album became the second global bestseller with sales of six million copies and spawned two international number-one singles, "Shake It Off" and "Blank Space".

Uses on record charts and certifications

United States

Beginning with the December 13, 2014 issue, the Billboard 200 albums chart revised its ranking methodology with album-equivalent unit instead of pure album sales. With this overhaul, the Billboard 200 includes on-demand streaming and digital track sales (as measured by Nielsen SoundScan) by way of a new algorithm, utilizing data from all of the major on-demand audio subscription services including Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, YouTube and Xbox Music. Known as TEA (track equivalent album) and SEA (streaming equivalent album) when originally implemented, 10 song sales or 1,500 song streams from an album were treated as equivalent to one purchase of the album. Billboard continues to publish a pure album sales chart, called Top Album Sales, that maintains the traditional Billboard 200 methodology, based exclusively on Nielsen SoundScan's sales data. [2] Taylor Swift's 1989 was the first album to top the chart with this methodology, generating 339,000 album-equivalent units (281,000 units came from pure album sales). [1] [8] On the February 8, 2015 issue, Now That's What I Call Music! 53 became the first album in history to miss the top position of the Billboard 200 despite being the best-selling album of the week. [9]

The Billboard 200 is a record chart ranking the 200 most popular music albums and EPs in the United States. It is published weekly by Billboard magazine. It is frequently used to convey the popularity of an artist or groups of artists. Often, a recording act will be remembered by its "number ones", those of their albums that outperformed all others during at least one week. The chart grew from a weekly top 10 list in 1956 to become a top 200 in May 1967, and acquired its present title in March 1992. Its previous names include the Billboard Top LPs (1961–72), Billboard Top LPs & Tape (1972–84), Billboard Top 200 Albums (1984–85) and Billboard Top Pop Albums.

Nielsen SoundScan is an information and sales tracking system created by Mike Fine and Mike Shalett in 1991. SoundScan is a method of tracking sales of music and music video products throughout the United States and Canada. Data is collected weekly and made available every Sunday and every Monday to subscribers, which include record companies, publishing firms, music retailers, independent promoters, film and TV companies, and artist managers. The Nielsen SoundScan is the sales source for the Billboard music charts, making it the largest source of sales records in the music industry.

Spotify Music streaming service

Spotify is an audio streaming platform launched by Spotify AB on 7 October 2008. It provides DRM-protected music and podcasts from record labels and media companies. As a freemium service, basic features are free with advertisements or automatic music videos, while additional features, such as improved streaming quality, are offered via paid subscriptions.

In July 2018, Billboard and Nielsen revised the ratios used for streaming equivalent album units to account for the relative value of streams on paid music services like Apple Music or Amazon Music Unlimited versus ad-supported music and video platforms such as Spotify's free tier and YouTube. Under the updated album equivalent ratios, 1,250 premium audio streams, 3,750 ad-supported streams, or 3,750 video streams are equal to one album unit. [10]

Similarly the Recording Industry Association of America, which had previously certified albums based on units sold to retail stores, began factoring streaming for their certifications in February 2016. [11]

Recording Industry Association of America voluntary association

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a trade organization that represents the recording industry in the United States. Its members consist of record labels and distributors, which the RIAA says "create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legally sold recorded music in the United States." The RIAA headquarters is in Washington, D.C.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the Official Charts Company has included streaming into the UK Albums Chart since March 2015. [12] The change was decided after the massive growth of streaming; the number of tracks streamed in the UK in a year doubled from 7.5 billion in 2013 to just under 15 billion in 2014. Under the new methodology, Official Charts Company takes the 12 most-streamed tracks from an album, with the top two songs being given lesser weight so that the figure will reflect the popularity of the album as a whole rather than of one or two successful singles. The adjusted total is divided by 1000 and added to the album sales figure. [13] Sam Smith's In the Lonely Hour was the first album to top the chart with this rule. Out of its 41,000 album-equivalent units, 2,900 units came from streaming and the rest were pure sales. [12] By the end of 2017, The BPI reported that streaming now accounts for over half of music consumption in the UK (50.4%). [14]

The Official Charts Company, also referred to as Official Charts is a British inter-professional organisation that compiles various "official" record charts in the United Kingdom, including the UK Singles Chart, the UK Albums Chart, the UK Singles Downloads Chart and the UK Album Downloads Chart, as well as genre-specific and music video charts. The OCC produces its charts by gathering and combining sales data from retailers through market researchers Millward Brown, and claims to cover 99% of the singles market and 95% of the album market, and aims to collect data from any retailer who sells more than 100 chart items per week.

The Official Albums Chart is a list of albums ranked by physical and digital sales and audio streaming in the United Kingdom. It was published for the first time on 22 July 1956 and is compiled every week by the Official Charts Company (OCC) on Fridays. It is broadcast on BBC Radio 1 and published in Music Week magazine, and on the OCC website.

Single (music) type of music release usually containing one or two tracks

In the music industry, a single is a type of release, typically a song recording of fewer tracks than an LP record or an album. This can be released for sale to the public in a variety of different formats. In most cases, a single is a song that is released separately from an album, although it usually also appears on an album. Typically, these are the songs from albums that are released separately for promotional uses such as digital download or commercial radio airplay and are expected to be the most popular. In other cases a recording released as a single may not appear on an album.

Germany

In Germany, streaming began to be included on the albums chart since February 2016. Nevertheless, German Albums Chart is used to ranking the albums based on weekly revenue, instead of units. Hence, only paid streaming is counted and should be played at least 30 seconds. At least 6 tracks of one album have to be streamed to make streams count for the album, with 12 tracks being the maximum counted. Similar to the UK chart rule, the actual streams of the top-two songs are not counted, but instead the average of the following tracks. [15] [16]

Criticism

In Forbes.com, Hugh McIntyre noted that the usage of album equivalent units has made artists release albums with excessive track lists. [17] Brian Josephs from Spin said: "If you’re a thirsty pop artist of note, you can theoretically game the system by packing as many as 20 tracks into an album, in the process rolling up more album-equivalent units—and thus album "sales"—as listeners check the album out." He also criticized Chris Brown's album Heartbreak on a Full Moon which contains over 40 songs. [18]

See also

Related Research Articles

Music recording certification

Music recording certification is a system of certifying that a music recording has shipped, sold, or streamed a certain number of units. The threshold quantity varies by type and by nation or territory.

Taylor Swift discography discography

American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift has released six studio albums, two extended plays (EP), four live albums, four video albums, fifty singles, seventeen promotional singles, and forty-four music videos. Her career began with a record deal with Big Machine Records in 2005 and the release of her eponymous debut album the following year. In the United States, Taylor Swift peaked at number five on the Billboard 200 albums chart and marked the longest stay on the chart by any release in the country in the 2000s decade. All of its singles—"Tim McGraw", "Teardrops on My Guitar", "Our Song", "Picture to Burn", and "Should've Said No"—charted within the top 40 in the United States and were certified platinum by the RIAA. Swift followed with the release of the EPs Sounds of the Season: The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection and Beautiful Eyes, which peaked at number 20 and number nine on the Billboard 200, respectively.

<i>Taylor Swift</i> (album) Eponymous debut studio album by Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift is the self-titled debut studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, released on October 24, 2006, by Big Machine Records. Swift was 16 years old at the time of the album's release and wrote its songs during her freshman year of high school. Swift has writing credits on all of the album's songs, including those co-written with Liz Rose. Swift experimented with several producers, ultimately choosing Nathan Chapman, who had produced her demo album. Musically, the album is country music styled, and lyrically it speaks of romantic relationships, a couple of which Swift wrote from observing relationships before being in one. Lyrics also touch on Swift's personal struggles in high school.

Top Latin Albums is a record chart published by Billboard magazine and is labeled as the most important music chart for Spanish language, full-length albums in the American music market. Like all Billboard album charts, the chart is based on sales. Nielsen SoundScan compiles the sales data from merchants representing more than 90 percent of the U.S. music retail market. The sample includes sales at music stores, the music departments of electronics and department stores, direct-to-consumer transactions, and Internet sales of physical albums or digital downloads. A limited array of verifiable sales from concert venues is also tabulated. To rank on this chart, an album must have 51% or more of its content recorded in Spanish. Listings of Top Latin Albums are also shown on Telemundo's music page through a partnership between the two companies. Before this, the first chart regarding latin music albums in the magazine was published on December 30, 1972 issue. Then, all Latin music information was featured on the Latin Pop Albums chart, which began on June 29, 1985, and is still running along with the Regional Mexican Albums and Tropical Albums chart. The Latin Pop Albums chart features music only from the pop genre, while the Regional Mexican Albums chart includes information from different genres like duranguense, norteño, banda and mariachi, and the Tropical Albums includes different genres particularly salsa, merengue, bachata, and cumbia. In 2005, another chart; Latin Rhythm Albums was introduced in response to growing number of airplays from reggaeton. On the week ending January 31, 2017, Billboard updated the methodology to compile the Top Latin Albums chart into a multi-metric methodology to include track equivalent album units and streaming equivalent albums units.

<i>Speak Now</i> album by Taylor Swift

Speak Now is the third studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was released on October 25, 2010, by Big Machine Records. Production for the album took place during 2009 to 2010 at several recording studios, and was handled by Swift and Nathan Chapman. Written entirely by Swift as the follow-up to Fearless, Speak Now expands on the country pop style of her previous work, and features lyrical themes including love, romance, and heartbreak.

<i>Red</i> (Taylor Swift album) album by Taylor Swift

Red is the fourth studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was released on October 22, 2012, by Big Machine Records, as the follow-up to her third studio album, Speak Now. The album title was inspired by the "semi-toxic relationships" that Swift experienced during the process of conceiving this album, with Swift describing the emotions she felt as "red emotions" due to their intense and tumultuous nature. Red touches on Swift's signature themes of love and heartbreak, however, from a more mature perspective while exploring other themes such as fame and the pressure of being in the limelight. The album features collaborations with producers and guest artists such as Gary Lightbody of the band Snow Patrol and Ed Sheeran, and is noted for Swift's experimentation with new musical genres. Swift completed The Red Tour in support of the album in 2014, which became the highest-grossing tour of all time by a country artist, grossing over $150 million.

Everything Has Changed 2013 single by Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran

"Everything Has Changed" is a song written and performed by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift and English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, taken from Swift's fourth studio album, Red (2012). Produced by Butch Walker, the track was released as the sixth single from the album on July 16, 2013. "Everything Has Changed" is a guitar ballad combining folk and pop genres about "wanting to get to know a new lover better".

<i>1989</i> (Taylor Swift album) 2014 album by Taylor Swift

1989 is the fifth studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, released on October 27, 2014 through Big Machine Records. Recording process for the album began in 2013, during which time music critics noted her fourth studio album Red for its mild departure from Swift's signature country sound to more pop-oriented styles, and her romantic affairs were under media scrutiny. For Red's follow-up, the singer decided to forsake her trademark country styles and was inspired by pop music of the 1980s for its experimentalism with synthesizers and overlapped vocals. The majority of the record was produced by Max Martin and Shellback; the former also served as executive producer alongside Swift herself.

Blank Space 2014 song by Taylor Swift

"Blank Space" is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift for her fifth studio album 1989 (2014). It was written by Swift, Max Martin and Shellback. The song was released to the radio by Republic Records on November 10, 2014 as the album's second single, after "Shake It Off" and is the second track on the album. It is an electropop song with lyrics that satirize the media's perception of Swift and her relationships.

Style (Taylor Swift song) 2015 song by Taylor Swift

"Style" is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift for her fifth studio album 1989 (2014). Songwriting was handled by Swift, Max Martin, Shellback, and Ali Payami, and production was conducted by all songwriters with the exception of the singer herself. Republic Records, in partnership with Swift's label Big Machine, serviced the song to US radio as the album's third single on February 9, 2015. Musically, "Style" incorporates disco, funk, and pop rock genres. The lyrics are ambiguous; contemporary publications interpreted its themes as beauty standards and reflections ensued from past romantic relationships. The track received generally positive reviews from critics, many of whom deemed it the album's highlight.

<i>25</i> (Adele album) 2015 studio album by Adele

25 is the third studio album by English singer Adele, released on 20 November 2015 by XL Recordings and Columbia Records. Issued nearly five years after her previous album, the internationally successful 21 (2011), the album is titled as a reflection of her life and frame of mind at 25 years old and is termed a "make-up record". Its lyrical content features themes of Adele "yearning for her old self, her nostalgia", and "melancholia about the passage of time" according to an interview with the singer by Rolling Stone, as well as themes of motherhood and regret. In contrast to Adele's previous works, the production of 25 incorporated the use of electronic elements and creative rhythmic patterns, with elements of 1980s R&B and organs. Like 21, Adele worked with producer and songwriter Paul Epworth and Ryan Tedder, along with new collaborations with Max Martin and Shellback, Greg Kurstin, Danger Mouse, the Smeezingtons, Samuel Dixon, and Tobias Jesso Jr.

Jumpman (song) 2015 single by Drake and Future

"Jumpman" is a single by Canadian rapper Drake and American rapper Future from their collaborative mixtape What a Time to Be Alive (2015). The track was sent to rhythmic radio on November 10, 2015.

<i>American Teen</i> (album) album by Khalid

American Teen is the debut studio album by American singer Khalid. It was released on March 3, 2017, by Right Hand Music Group and RCA Records. The album was supported by the singles "Location", "Young Dumb & Broke" and "Saved".

<i>Reputation</i> (Taylor Swift album) Taylor Swift album

Reputation is the sixth studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was released on November 10, 2017, through Big Machine Records. The record was primarily produced by Jack Antonoff, Max Martin, Shellback and Swift herself, who also serves as the executive producer. Artists featured on the album include English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran and American rapper Future.

References

  1. 1 2 "Taylor Swift's '1989' Returns to No. 1 on Revamped Billboard 200". billboard.com. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  2. 1 2 Trust, Gary (2014-11-20). "Billboard 200 Makeover: Album Chart to Incorporate Streams & Track Sales". Billboard . Retrieved 2014-11-20.
  3. "Why Album Sales Are Down". Speeli. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  4. McIntyre, Hugh (October 16, 2014). "Not One Artist's Album Has Gone Platinum In 2014". Forbes . Forbes, Inc.
  5. Sanders, Sam. "Taylor Swift, Platinum Party of One". NPR.
  6. Caulfield, Keith (May 22, 2016). "Drake's 'Views' Rules at No. 1 for Fifth Week on Billboard 200 Chart". Billboard. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  7. "Global Recording Artist of the Year". International Federation of the Phonographic Industry . Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  8. "Why Is Taylor Swift Still #1?". pitchfork.com. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  9. Book, Ryan (February 12, 2015). "Now 53 Outsells Taylor Swift, Becomes First Record to Top Albums Chart but Not Billboard 200; Kid Ink Cracks Top 10". The Music Times. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  10. Sisario, Ben (July 9, 2018). "The Music Industry's Math Changes, but the Outcome Doesn't: Drake Is No. 1". The New York Times. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  11. Tsioulcas, Anastasia (February 1, 2016). "Forget Selling Albums — Artists Can Now Go Platinum Via Streaming". NPR. Retrieved February 21, 2019.
  12. 1 2 "Sam Smith's 'In the Lonely Hour' Tops Historic U.K. Albums Chart". billboard.com. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  13. "Official Albums Chart to include streaming data for first time". officialcharts.com. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  14. "Drake's Official Top 40 most streamed songs" . Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  15. "Deutsche Album-Charts integrieren Premium-Streaming" (in German). Musikmarkt.de. February 1, 2016. Archived from the original on February 1, 2016. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  16. Briegleb, Volker (February 1, 2016). "Deutsche Album-Charts jetzt auch mit Streaming-Zahlen". Heinz Heise . Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  17. "How Longer Albums And Streaming Giants Are Manipulating The Charts". Forbes. 2017-08-17. Retrieved 2018-08-05.
  18. "Why Does Chris Brown's New Album Have 40 Songs?". Spin. 2017-05-02. Retrieved 2018-08-05.