Skip to main content

This is Getting Ridiculous: Red Hot Chili Peppers Outsell Drake 3-to-1 Yet Drake Will Have the Number 1 Album

by VVN Music

It's time to examine the methodology used to determine the record charts.

Yes, the charts must change as technology changes but the current industry model is so new that it looks like the "calibration" might be off.

In November 2014, Billboard added two new measurements in determining its top 200 albums in what it called the biggest upgrade in more than 23 years. The first, to offset the trend of consumers buying individual tracks on the digital sites instead of entire albums, awards one album unit of sales for every ten individual tracks sold from the album. It didn't make any difference if it was ten of the same track by ten different buyers, it was still considered one album.

The second, to compensate for the growing trend of only consuming music through streaming, awarded one album sales unit for every 1,500 song streams from that album.  This is where the problem seems to lie.

Does a consumer listening to 1,500 tracks on a streaming service actually equal their purchasing a full-length album?  Looking at it from the artist's perspective, does 1,500 people listening to a track from your album pay you the same as if you sold one full length album?

These questions are important when you look at this week's projected sales and streams from Hits Daily Double. The site surveys a sampling of retailers across the U.S. and then projects sales based on that sample.

For this week in the U.S., the new Red Hot Chili Peppers album The Getaway has sold a projected 105,855 units, not counting streaming. That's three times as many copies as any of the next four albums on the list:
  1. The Getaway - Red Hot Chili Peppers (105,855)
  2. A Moon Shaped Pool - Radiohead (35,495)
  3. Johannesburg (EP) - Mumford and Sons & Baaba Maal (34,503)
  4. Views - Drake (33,391)
  5. Lemonade - Beyonce (31,692)
A very impressive week for the veteran band. 

Now, when streams are added in, suddenly Drake jumps from 4, over the Chili Peppers, to number 1.

Here's how it works (remember, these are estimated sales and streams based from Hits Daily Double):

Red Hot Chili Peppers

105,855 Sales
Album Equivalent Streams (estimated 16,234,500 streams)
 = 116,678 Sales + Streaming

Album Equivalent Streams (estimated 132,223,500 streams)
121,540 Sales + Streaming

Yes, Drake does have a LOT more people streaming his album but, we repeat, is that truly equivalent to 88,149 people putting $10 down on the counter and buying his album?

With this methodology and the increased use of streaming by youth and young adults, it is going to become harder and harder for veteran artists to ever place well on the charts again.

It looks like there will be three veteran artists in the top ten next week, even after streaming is taken into account. The release of Radiohead's A Moon Shaped Pool on CD and vinyl has pushed the album back to the top ten with 38,124 equivalent units, putting it at number 6 while the previously mentioned Mumford and Sons album with veteran singer and guitarist Baaba Maal from Senegal, is projected at 7 with 36,874.

The trio of Neko Case, k.d. lang and Laura Veirs, now known as case/lang/veirs, moved an estimated 9,833 units of their new self-titled album, good for number 23 on Hits Daily Doubles' Sales chart but they did not have enough streams to make the Sales + Streaming Top 50.

Final chart positions will be out on Tuesday.