“Billboard” Fusses With Its Chart Rules, Clears Eagles’ Path To No. 1

noah | November 7, 2007 8:32 am

Hoping to evade the possibility of an asterisk-tainted chart, the powers that be at Billboard and Nielsen SoundScan changed their rules for charting albums last night in such a way to ensure that the Eagles’ Long Road Out Of Eden–their Wal-Mart-only album that sold 711,000 copies last week–would top this week’s Billboard 200, pushing Britney Spears’ 290,000-copy-selling Blackout to the No. 2 slot.

In consultation with Nielsen SoundScan, Billboard will now allow exclusive album titles that are only available through one retailer to appear on The Billboard 200 and other charts, effective with this week’s charts. Prior to this, proprietary titles were not eligible to appear on most Billboard charts.

Early SoundScan numbers have the Eagles taking the top perch on The Billboard 200 with 711,000 copies sold, with most sales moved by Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores. For now, the only other U.S. outlets carrying “Eden” are walmart.com, where both physical copies and downloads are sold, and the Eagles’ own Web site. …

“We know that some retailers will be uncomfortable with this policy, but it was inevitable that Billboard’s charts would ultimately widen the parameters to reflect changes that are unfolding in music distribution,” says Geoff Mayfield, Billboard’s director of charts. “We would have preferred to make this decision earlier, but only became aware within the last 24 hours that Wal-Mart would be willing to share the data for this title with Nielsen SoundScan.”

Ah, the power of being able to ensure you’ve won before the results of your battle are announced! Although it’s funny (in a “wow, the business is circling the drain even faster now!” way) that the likelihood of this new rule influencing Wal-Mart’s decision to slash shelf space for music in the new year is probably nil.

Revised Chart Policy Lands Eagles At No. 1 [Billboard]