Billboard, which has changed its chart calculation method again, is it an attempt to restrain K-pop?
Billboard made a rule change last year, acknowledging only one download per week and excluding two or more downloads. Now, they have decided not to consider official website album and song downloads in their calculations. Since last year, Billboard’s frequent rule changes have raised concerns that they are conscious of fandom-driven strategies and targeting K-pop. This recent measure seems to follow the same pattern.
Billboard recently announced that they would exclude D2C (Direct-to-consumer) sites from their chart calculations. D2C sites refer to an artist’s official website for direct sales to consumers, rather than music streaming platforms. Many artists, both domestically and internationally, have opened official websites where they sell albums and songs.
The reason for the reaction in the domestic music scene to Billboard’s Hot 100 chart calculation changes is that D2C calculations have played a significant role in K-pop artists’ entries on the Billboard charts.
The Hot 100 chart is determined by aggregating data from music and official music video streaming, radio airplay, physical single sales, and digital download sales in the United States.
K-pop artists, with relatively fewer radio airplay opportunities, must focus on music and album sales to enter the Hot 100. Artists have also utilized D2C to sell digital singles at lower prices, release remixes, and encourage single downloads.
For K-pop artists, Billboard is no longer an unfamiliar stage. Newcomers now express their aspirations for “Billboard Chart No.1” rather than “No.1 on domestic music broadcasts.”
Since the early 2010s, K-pop artists have been constantly challenging the North American market to enter the Billboard charts. BTS, following their success in dominating the single and album charts, achieved remarkable results on the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot 200 main charts.
While the Hot 200 chart aggregates performance from 200 countries worldwide, the relatively challenging aspect for K-pop artists was to enter the Hot 100 chart, which relies more on popularity within the United States.
Currently, only BTS and Jimin have topped the Hot 100 chart. BTS secured six songs, including “Savage Love,” “Life Goes On,” “Butter,” “Permission to Dance,” and “My Universe,” while Jimin topped with his solo track “Lie Like Crazy.” Particularly, Jimin’s achievement came after Billboard’s rule changes were implemented.
Despite the continuous efforts and challenges of K-pop artists towards Billboard, the application of rules that appear relatively disadvantageous to them has led to interpretations that the South Korean music industry, as well as the local music market in the United States, are conscious of K-pop artists’ efforts and achievements.
Billboard has not explained the specific reason for this measure, but concerns have emerged that they are targeting K-pop artists. A representative from the domestic music industry stated, “We are closely monitoring Billboard’s frequent changes in chart calculations. There aren’t many clear ways for domestic agencies to respond. If Billboard’s intention is genuinely to restrain K-pop, then expanding popularity beyond fandom might be the most effective approach. This is also a task given to K-pop artists regardless of Billboard’s rule changes.”