According to The New York Times, starting January 3rd, Billboard will begin counting YouTube streams when calculating their album charts. 

YouTube streams will follow the same model as Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, etc with 1,250 clicks from paying users counting as one album sale and 3,750 from non-paying users resulting in the same. User-generated content will not be counted.

Deanna Brown, the president of the Billboard-Hollywood Reporter Media Group said, “It’s an important part of music consumption, and it’s time to recognize that."

While YouTube is the most popular music streaming platform, according to Midia Research, it also has the lowest payout for content creators. As the Times explains, "Despite YouTube’s vast popularity, ad-supported outlets like it generated $760 million last year, while paid services like Spotify and Apple generated about $4.7 billion, according to the Recording Industry Association of America."

This is now the second major change Billboard has made to how it counts album sales recently. On November 26th, the company announced it would be revamping the way album bundles count towards total sales. They explained the changes in a press release saying, "Moving forward, in order for an album sale to be counted as part of a merchandise/album bundle, all the items in the bundle must also be available for purchase concurrently and individually on the same website. In addition, the merchandise item sold on its own will have to be priced lower than the bundle which includes both the merchandise and the album. Further, merchandise bundles can only be sold in an artist's official direct-to-consumer web store and not via third-party sites."