Streaming has drastically changed how album and single sales are charted as the industry moves away from week one and lifetime album sales as their defining number and moves to the number of streams in its first week.
Billboard only just finalized its new charting system at the beginning of 2018 and has broken down their charting system into three main parts: radio play, sales, and streaming. However, they also announced in these changes that they would be giving more weight to the numbers of streams from streaming services that people actually subscribe to and pay for like Apple Music and Spotify, weighing streams from YouTube, the world’s largest streaming site, at a much lower value.
Conceivably this is supposed to mimic the industry’s past where physical album sales were the Creme de la Creme of an artist’s spot on the Top 200. However, in a world where physical or even digital album purchases are almost non-existent, unless that is the only way to enjoy the album, this charting format does not quite seem honest.
Especially since the changes in our modern technology have made headway for new artists to get noticed and build entire careers via their YouTube and online presence.
Painting Pictures Album
The album Painting Pictures was Kodak Black’s premiere solo album was released on March 31 in 2017 by Dollaz N Dealz Entertainment, Sniper Gang, and Atlantic Records.
Two of the three singles from the album claimed spots on the US Top 100 list that April: There He Go, which held at number one for three weeks, and Tunnel Vision, which came out at number twenty-seven, but later peaked at number six, making it Kodak’s first top ten single on the US 100 list.
Patty Cake, the third single, was released later that August, along with its music video, the song peaked at number seventy-six on the charts.
The rap album as a whole sold 71,000 equivalent units first week, hitting the No. 3 spot on the Top 200 chart. Fifty-one thousand of those copies were the streaming equivalent album units, and 15,000 were traditional album sales. This, of course, was before Billboard’s changes to streaming weights.
Painting Pictures Tracklist:
1. “Day for Day”
2. “Coolin and Booted”
3. “Candy Paint” (featuring Bun B)
4. “Up in Here”
5. “U Ain’t Never”
6. “Twenty 8”
7. “Patty Cake”
8. “Save You”
9. “Conscience” (featuring Future)
10. “Tunnel Vision”
11. “Corrlinks and JPay”
12. “Reminiscing” (featuring A Boogie wit da Hoodie)
13. “Side Nigga”
14. “Off the Land”
15. “Top Off Benz” (featuring Young Thug)
16. “Feeling Like” (featuring Jeezy)
17. “Why They Call You Kodak”
18. “There He Go”
Dying to Live Album
Kodak’s second studio album, Dying to Live, follows his 2017’s release of Painting Pictures. Though there is no title track for this album, the Track ZeZe made it to number two on the Billboard Top 200 list in 2018.
Dying to Live debuted at number one on the charts with what is deemed a mere 89,000 album sales in its first week. That number is somewhat misleading because this number encompasses the 114 million streams of tracks from the record and only about 5,000 actual purchases of the full album.
Dying to Live Track List:
2. “This Forever”
3. “Identity Theft”
4. “Gnarly” (featuring Lil Pump)
5. “Zeze” (featuring Travis Scott and Offset)
6. “Take One”
7. “MoshPit” (featuring Juice Wrld)
9. “Malcolm X.X.X.”
10. “Calling My Spirit”
11. “In the Flesh”
12. “Close to the Grave”
13. “From the Cradle”
14. “If I’m Lyin, I’m Flyin”
15. “Needing Something”
16. “Could of Been Different”
Streaming Charts and the New Artist
Kodak Black’s top hits fall prey to this new form of bean-counting since his rap music has only come to fruition in the streaming age.
In 2017 YouTube and free streaming site streams were weighed as equals. However, by the summer of 2018, the new charting methods effectively impart a 33% penalty on video streams and, therefore, any viral hit that is hosted on YouTube.
This charting system works on a point awarding basis:
On-demand Audio services like Spotify and Apple Music are given one point each.
On-demand video streams from YouTube and others like Vevo 0.67 points each.
Programmed streams by Internet radio services – non-interactive and limited functionality, Pandora or Slacker Radio are given 0.5 points each.
The “good news” is that this new rating system doesn’t affect radio play or actual albums sold. However, in a world of technology that is pulling away from traditional radio with more and more listeners tuning into their favorite songs when and wherever they want to by opening up the YouTube app feels like a backslide.
Waning album sales have given themselves over to the power of the streaming site, but does this new system really do justice to the charts?
A statistic shows that only 25% of Americans subscribed to and use Spotify in 2020. While this is still a considerable percentage of Americans, YouTube garnishes 77% of internet users in the US.
How will Artists Like Kodak, Prevail Under this New System?
The actual good news is that artists are still receiving their royalties from all of these sites despite the new charting system rules. However, this new system unveils a growing systemic issue in America today.
This creates and will continue to build a substantial socioeconomic divide in the charting of music. Not all Americans can afford or will pay for an ad-free streaming service with the ease of use of free sites like YouTube permeating our daily media intake on all fronts, not just music.
A New Age For Music For Top Artist Like Kodak
As technology continues to change, so will the music industry adapt. Kodak has been working on a new album and has released several singles while in prison for federal gun charges. He revealed in April via tweet that his next album Kill Bill will be releasing soon, and his lawyer, Bradford Cohen, later backed up the tweet by saying that it will, in fact, be released soon.
It will be interesting to see what hits come from this budding new artist and how his numbers will be charted on his second album to undergo this new scrutiny.
And although we aren’t all racing out to buy new CDs to play in our Walkmans till they get scratched beyond repair, we are still listening to new music on a daily basis. Modern technology has given us all the ability to listen to a song the minute it is released. That is a gift to the music industry in and of itself.
These days one can enjoy a music video, flip over to watching an interview with the artist, followed by a mash-up, followed by a video on gardening by simply searching a single topic. The world is your streaming oyster and a shift in charting to reflect these times is not so distant on the horizon.