Yesterday, Billboard issued a long statement regarding the changes in stream weighting for 2018. This comes after an apparent “life hack” made by Post Malone’s label, Republic Records, over his song “Rockstar” featuring 21 Savage.

YouTube Life Hack

Republic’s YouTube account, although currently unverified, posted a video on YouTube in late September. The video stands at three minutes and 38 seconds—the exact time “Rockstar” spans for, but the video is actually just a repetition of the song’s hook. Republic posted a link to the full song on the caption box alongside Post Malone’s social media accounts.

Streaming generally accounts for 20-30% of what counts on the Hot 100 charts. When people click on the link and are sent to the full song after pressing play on YouTube, the song will have multiple streams. This could more or less double or triple the stream counts as compared to one stream from YouTube. The “Rockstar” video currently has 48+ million views, although comments have been disabled. Post Malone seemingly addressed the controversy via Twitter, but didn’t drop names.

Major Changes

With this in mind, Billboard decided to change their system for the Hot 100 (for singles) and Billboard 200 (albums) next year. Their current Hot 100 system separates streaming plays in two: on-demand (like Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube) and programmed (like Pandora and Slacker Radio), with on-demand bearing a greater weight. On the Billboard 200, only on-demand audio streams from subscription services contribute to the calculations. Video streams do not count for the Billboard 200, and instead are incorporated to the Hot 100.

Next year’s changes for the Hot 100 see hybrid paid/ad-supported platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and SoundCloud giving more weight in calculations compared to non-paid platforms like YouTube. The Billboard 200 will divide their on-demand audio streams to paid subscription and ad-supported. This change in methodology reflects how we consume music today, moving from on-demand experiences to different listening preferences.

2018 seems like a great year for music, with bands like MGMT teasing a new album release for next year! Whether or not this was a response to Republic Records’ YouTube stint remains a mystery. Let’s see how well this change goes and if any musicians have anything to say about it.

Featured image from A Nation of Billions