How Merchandise Bundles Undid the Album Chart

How Merchandise Bundles Undid the Album Chart

Approximately half the albums that have topped the Billboard album chart since the beginning of 2019 have been made available as part of a bundle, in which it is offered as an add-on sale to a more expensive item, typically an article of clothing or a concert ticket.

As a result, the album itself has been steadily devalued — at times, it can verge on an afterthought. Some artists, like Travis Scott and Taylor Swift, have turned the merchandise bundle into its own art form. And Billboard is constantly playing whack-a-mole with new attempts to game the sanctity of its chart, only to see new tricks emerge.

On this week’s Popcast, a conversation about the history of bundling, and how it has contributed to the reassessment of the album’s value. Plus, a discussion about whether in this era, an album-only chart is even the most useful and revealing way to assess popularity, relevance and success.

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