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Changes in Billboard’s ranking criteria: Will BTS dominate the U.S. again this year?

As Billboard changed their ranking criteria in the new year, people are paying attention to whether it will affect K-pop singers such as BTS.

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From Jan 11th (local time), Billboard changed their rules to exclude duplicate purchases (downloads) from the tally and only accepted one download per week. Previously, digital music purchases were counted up to 4 times a week per person (1 account). Due to this change, it is counted only once per week now.

In addition, albums priced at $3.49 (about 4,168 won) and mini albums (EPs) with 8 or less songs under $0.39 (about 466 won) were excluded from the tally. Billboard said that they will not include music or albums sold at a lower price in the sales tally. Usually, albums made from remix versions of existing songs are sold at low prices.

The new regulations have been applied to the entire Billboard chart system, including Hot 100 and Billboard 200, since Jan 11th. Billboard did not provide any special background explanation for this arrangement. However, the changed Billboard regulations are read with the intention of limiting fandoms’ mass purchases as well as excessive remix versions.

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The change in Billboard rules has raised concerns over the entry of BTS and other K-pop singers into Billboard. If duplicate downloads are excluded from the tally, the download ratio will relatively decrease, and the rate of streaming and radio broadcasts will increase. Unlike local U.S. singers whose main focus is streaming, K-pop singers have been strong in downloading thanks to their large scale fandoms.

According to the 2021 U.S. music market annual report released by MRC Data, BTS’ “Butter” was the most downloaded song with about 1.89 million downloads last year. Aside from “Butter“, “Permission To Dance” (400,000 downloads), “Dynamite” (310,000 downloads) and “My Universe” (290,000 downloads) ranked 3rd, 6th and 7th in the “Top Digital Song Sales” chart. “Butter” was the only song with more than 1 million downloads last year, 3.8 times higher than No.2 Walker Hayes‘ “Fancy Like” (500,000 downloads).

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Last year, not only BTS but BLACKPINK Lisa successfully entered Hot 100 with her solo songs “Lalisa” and “Money“. Girl group TWICE also ranked 83rd in Hot 100 with their first English single “The Feels“.

An official from a large music company said, “There are criticisms that K-pop singers are trying to prevent American singers as they rank high on Billboard. Besides, Billboard rankings also influence the selection of other nominations such as the American Music Awards.”

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