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Billboard 200


The Billboard 200 is a ranking of the 200 highest-selling music albums and EPs in the United States, published weekly by Billboard magazine. It is frequently used to convey the popularity of an artist or groups of artists. Often, a recording act will be remembered by its "number ones", those of their albums that outsold all others during at least one week.

The chart is based solely on sales (both at retail and digitally) of albums in the United States. The sales tracking week begins on Monday and ends on Sunday. A new chart is published the following Thursday with an issue date of the Saturday of the following week.

Monday January 1 – sales tracking week begins
Sunday January 7 – sales tracking week ends
Thursday January 11 – new chart published, with issue date of Saturday January 20.

Normally new products are released to the American market on Tuesdays. Digital downloads are included in Billboard 200 tabulation, as long as the entire album is purchased as a whole. Albums that are not licensed for retail sale in the United States (yet purchased in the U.S. as imports) are not eligible to chart. A long-standing policy which made titles that are sold exclusively by specific retail outlets (such as Wal-Mart and Starbucks) ineligible for charting, was reversed on November 7, 2007, and took effect in the issue dated November 17.[1]

The current number-one album (as of the issue dated July 14, 2012) on the Billboard 200 is Living Things by Linkin Park.[2]



Billboard began an album chart in 1945. Initially only five positions long, the album chart was not published on a weekly basis, sometimes three to seven weeks passing before it was updated. A biweekly (though with a few gaps), 15-position Best-Selling Popular Albums chart appeared in 1955. With the explosion of rock and roll music, Billboard premiered a weekly Best-Selling Popular Albums chart on March 24, 1956. The position count varied anywhere from 10 to 30 albums. The first number-one album on the new weekly list was Belafonte by Harry Belafonte. The chart was renamed to Best-Selling Pop Albums later in 1956, and then to Best-Selling Pop LPs in 1957.

Beginning on May 25, 1959, Billboard split the ranking into two charts Best-Selling Stereophonic LPs for stereo albums (30 positions) and Best-Selling Monophonic LPs for mono albums (50 positions). These were renamed to Stereo Action Charts (30 positions) and Mono Action Charts (40 positions) in 1960. In January 1961, they became Action Albums—Stereophonic (15 positions) and Action Albums—Monophonic (25 positions). Three months later, they became Top LPs—Stereo (50 positions) and Top LPs—Monaural (150 positions).

On August 17, 1963 the stereo and mono charts were combined into a 150-position chart called Top LPs. On April 1, 1967, the chart was expanded to 175 positions, then finally to 200 positions on May 13, 1967. In 1972 the album chart's title was changed to Top LPs & Tapes; in 1984 it was retitled Top 200 Albums; in 1985 it was retitled again to Top Pop Albums; in 1991 it became The Billboard 200 Top Albums; and it was given its current title of The Billboard 200 on March 14, 1992.

Catalog albums

In 1960, Billboard began concurrently publishing album charts which ranked sales of older or mid-priced titles. These Essential Inventory charts were divided by stereo and mono albums, and featured titles that had already appeared on the main stereo and mono album charts. Mono albums were moved to the Essential Inventory—Mono chart (25 positions) after spending 40 weeks on the Mono Action Chart, and stereo albums were moved to the Essential Inventory—Stereo chart (20 positions) after 20 weeks on the Stereo Action Chart.

In January 1961, the Action Charts became Action Albums—Monophonic (24 positions), and Action Albums—Stereophonic (15 positions). Albums appeared on either chart for up to nine weeks, then were moved to an Essential Inventory list of approximately 200 titles, with no numerical ranking. This list continued to be published until the consolidated Top LPs chart debuted in 1963.

In 1982, Billboard began publishing a Midline Albums chart which ranked older or mid-priced titles. The chart held 50 positions and was published on a bi-weekly (and later tri-weekly) basis.

On May 25, 1991 Billboard premiered the Top Pop Catalog Albums chart. The criteria for this chart were albums that were more than 18 months old and had fallen below position 100 on the Billboard 200.[3] An album needed not have charted on the Billboard 200 at all to qualify for catalog status.

Starting with the issue dated December 5, 2009, however, the catalog limitations which removed albums over 18 months old, that have dropped below position 100 and have no currently-running single, from the Billboard 200 was lifted, turning the chart into an all-inclusive list of the 200 highest-selling albums in the country (essentially changing Top Comprehensive Albums into the Billboard 200). A new chart that keeps the previous criteria for the Billboard 200 (dubbed Top Current Albums) was also introduced in the same issue.[4]

Holiday albums

Billboard has adjusted its policies for Christmas[5] and holiday[5] albums several times. The albums were eligible for the main album charts until 1963, when a Christmas Albums list was created. Albums appearing here were not listed on the Top LPs chart. In 1974 this rule was reverted and holiday albums again appeared within the main list.

In 1983 the Christmas Albums chart was resurrected, but a title's appearance here did not disqualify it from appearing on the Top Pop Albums chart. In 1994 the chart was retitled Top Holiday Albums. As of 2009 the chart holds 50 positions and is run for several weeks during the end-of-calendar-year holiday season. Its current policy allows holiday albums to concurrently chart on the Top Holiday Albums list and the Billboard 200.

Nielsen SoundScan

Since May 25, 1991, the Billboard 200's positions have been derived from Nielsen SoundScan sales data, as of 2008 contributed by approximately 14,000 music sellers. Because these numbers are supplied by a subset of sellers rather than record labels, it is common for these numbers to be substantially lower than those reported by the Recording Industry Association of America when Gold, Platinum and Diamond album awards are announced (RIAA awards reflect wholesale shipments, not retail sales).

Year-end charts

Billboard’s "chart year" runs from the first week of December to the final week in November. This altered calendar allows for Billboard to calculate year-end charts and release them in time for its final print issue on the last week of December. Prior to Nielsen SoundScan, year-end charts were calculated by an inverse-point system based solely on an album's performance on the Billboard 200 (for example, an album would be given one point for a week spent at position 200, two points for a week spent at position 199… up to 200 points for each week spent at number one). Other factors including the total weeks on the chart and at its peak position were calculated into an album's year-end total.

After Billboard began obtaining sales information from Nielsen SoundScan, the year-end charts are now calculated by a very straightforward cumulative total of yearlong sales. This gives a more accurate picture of any given year’s best-selling albums, as a title that hypothetically spent nine weeks at number one in March could possibly have sold fewer copies than one spending six weeks at number three in January. Interestingly, albums at the peak of their popularity at the time of the November/December chart-year cutoff many times end up ranked lower than one would expect on a year-end tally, yet are ranked on the following year's chart as well, as their cumulative points are split between the two chart-years.


The Billboard 200 can be helpful to radio stations as an indication of the types of music listeners are interested in hearing. Retailers can also find it useful as a way to determine which recordings should be given the most prominent display in a store. Other outlets, such as airline music services, also employ the Billboard charts to determine their programming.


The chart omits unit sales for listed albums and total recorded sales, making it impossible to determine, for example, if the number one album this week sold as well as the number one from the same period in the prior year. It is also impossible to determine the relative success of albums on a single chart; there is no indication of whether the number one album sold thousands more copies than number 50, or only dozens more. All music genres are combined, but there are separate Billboard charts for individual market segments. The complete sales data broken down by location is made available, but only in the form of separate SoundScan subscriptions. Declining CD sales and the widespread sale of singles via the internet further reduce the relevance of the Billboard 200.

Artist milestones

Most top-ten albums[6]

Most number-one albums[7]

Most consecutive number-one albums[8]

Most cumulative weeks at number one

Album milestones

Most weeks at number one

Most weeks on the chart

Note that totals are for the main albums chart only, catalog chart totals are not factored in.

Biggest jumps to number-one

Biggest drops from number-one

Additional milestones

See also



  1. ^ Peters, Mitchell (2007-11-06). "Revised Chart Policy Lands Eagles At No. 1". Billboard. http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/content_display/charts/chart_alert/e3i680cdd40645913b006ab7f204ebf917b. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  2. ^ Caulfield, Keith (2012-07-04). "Linkin Park Squeaks By Maroon 5, Hits No. 1 on Billboard 200". Billboard (Prometheus Global Media). http://www.billboard.com/news/linkin-park-squeaks-by-maroon-5-hits-no-1007496162.story. Retrieved 2012-07-04. 
  3. ^ Peters, Mitchell (2008-01-08). "New Chart Parameters for Billboard, Nielsen SoundScan". Billboard. http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/search/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003694233. Retrieved 2008-01-08. 
  4. ^ Trust, Gary (2009-11-17). "Billboard 200 Undergoes Makeover". Billboard. http://www.billboard.com/#/column/chartbeat/billboard-200-undergoes-makeover-1004043310.story. Retrieved 2009-11-17. 
  5. ^ a b Taylor, Chuck (2010-06-29). "Billboard Holiday Albums Chart Goes Live Early". Billboard. http://www.billboard.com/news/billboard-holiday-albums-chart-goes-live-1003661043.story#/news/billboard-holiday-albums-chart-goes-live-1003661043.story. Retrieved 2010-06-30. 
  6. ^ Trust, Gary (2010-10-28). "Weekly Chart Notes: Elton John, Taylor Swift, Shakira". Billboard. http://www.billboard.com/column/weekly-chart-notes-elton-john-taylor-swift-1004124405.story#/column/weekly-chart-notes-elton-john-taylor-swift-1004124405.story. Retrieved 2011-03-11. 
  7. ^ U.S. Billboard News for Sept 16, 2009
  8. ^ Chart Beat Thursday: Eminem, Jason Derulo, Cyndi Lauper Billboard. Retrieved February 20, 2012
  9. ^ "Billboard 200 Week of February 18, 2012 : Weeks on Chart". Billboard.com. http://www.billboard.com/#/charts/billboard-200?chartDate=2012-02-18&order=timeon. Retrieved 2012-02-11. 
  10. ^ http://www.billboard.com/#/album/guns-n-roses/appetite-for-destruction/8090
  11. ^ Caulfield, Keith (2011-02-09). "Nicki Minaj Hits No. 1 in 11th Week on Billboard 200". Billboard. http://www.billboard.com/#/news/nicki-minaj-hits-no-1-in-11th-week-on-billboard-1005027382.story. Retrieved 2011-02-09. 
  12. ^ Caulfield, Keith (2011-01-26). "Decemberists' 'The King Is Dead' Tops Billboard 200". Billboard. http://www.billboard.com/#/news/decemberists-the-king-is-dead-tops-billboard-200-1005012152.story. Retrieved 2011-01-26. 
  13. ^ Caulfield, Keith (2012-01-04). "Adele's '21' Claims 14th Week Atop Billboard 200". Billboard. http://www.billboard.com/#/news/adele-s-21-claims-14th-week-atop-billboard-1005784952.story. Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  14. ^ Grein, Paul (12 Nov 2010), Chart Watch Extra: King’s 50-Year Reign, Yahoo! Music, http://new.music.yahoo.com/blogs/chart_watch/69353/chart-watch-extra-kings-50-year-reign, retrieved 15 May 2012 
  15. ^ Conradt, Stacy. "The Quick 10: 10 Billboard Milestones". Mental Floss. http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/24901. Retrieved June 8, 2010. 
  16. ^ Elvis Presley Pop Albums, Elvis Presley, http://www.elvis.com/about-the-king/music/billboard_top_20_charts/pop_albums.aspx, retrieved 15 May 2012 
  17. ^ a b "Billboard's Number One Albums of the Rock Era, Pt. 1 (1956-1995)". Rate Your Music. http://rateyourmusic.com/list/QuartzM386/billboards_number_one_albums_of_the_rock_era__pt__1__1956_1995_. Retrieved 2011-02-20. 
  18. ^ Cohen, Ronald (2002). Rainbow Quest: the folk music revival and American society, 1940-1970. University of Massachusetts Press. p. 132. ISBN 1-55849-348-4. http://books.google.com/?id=BVqlULnfhy0C&lpg=PP1&dq=ronald%20d.%20cohen%20folk&pg=PA132#v=onepage&q=. 
  19. ^ Fink, Matt. "Review of Here We Go Again". AllMusic Guide. http://www.allmusic.com/album/r123026. Retrieved March 19, 2010. 
  20. ^ Rubeck, Shaw, Blake et al., The Kingston Trio On Record (Naperville IL: KK Inc, 1986), p. 37 ISBN 978-0-9614594-0-6
  21. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc (1959-11-16). Billboard Chart 11/16/59. http://books.google.com/?id=9wcEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA30&dq=billboard+november+16+1959#v=onepage&q=billboard%20november%2016%201959&f=false. Retrieved August 14, 2010. 
  22. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc (1959-11-23). Billboard Chart 11/23/59. http://books.google.com/?id=RAoEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA29&dq=billboard+november+23+1959#v=onepage&q=billboard%20november%2023%201959&f=false. Retrieved August 14, 2010. 
  23. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc (1959-11-30). Billboard Chart, 11/30/59. http://books.google.com/?id=-gcEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA26&dq=billboard+november+30+1959#v=onepage&q=billboard%20november%2030%201959&f=false. Retrieved August 14, 2010. 
  24. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc (1959-12-07). Billboard Chart, 12/7/59. http://books.google.com/?id=5QcEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA37&dq=grammy++kingston+trio&cd=6#v=onepage&q=grammy%20%20kingston%20trio&f=false. Retrieved August 14, 2010. 
  25. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc (1959-12-14). Billboard Chart, 12/14/59. http://books.google.com/?id=NQoEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA23&dq=billboard+december+14+1959#v=onepage&q=billboard%20december%2014%201959&f=false. Retrieved August 14, 2010. 
  26. ^ "Britney Spears Sells 609,000 Copies Of 'In The Zone'". Music.Yahoo.com. December 1, 2003. http://music.yahoo.com/read/story/12064351. Retrieved 2011-02-07. 
  27. ^ "Britney Earns (Another) Guinness World Record". Britney.com. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
  28. ^ Leona Lewis Makes Big Splash Atop Billboard 200 Billboard. Retrieved 2012-03-21
  29. ^ Caulfield, Keith (2012-03-21). "One Direction Makes History With No. 1 Debut on Billboard 200". Billboard. http://www.billboard.com/news/one-direction-aiming-for-historic-no-1-on-1006462152.story#/news/one-direction-makes-history-with-no-1-debut-1006522752.story. Retrieved 2012-03-21. 
  30. ^ Caulfield, Keith (2009-07-01). "Michael Jackson Breaks Billboard Charts Records". Billboard. http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/michael-jackson-breaks-billboard-charts-1003989310.story. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  31. ^ "Michael Jackson's music tops charts". CNN. 2009-07-01. http://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/Music/07/01/michael.jackson.sales/index.html. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  32. ^ Gary Trust. "Ask Billboard: Indies, No. 2 Hits & Teddy Pendergrass". http://www.billboard.com/news/ask-billboard-indies-no-2-hits-teddy-pendergrass-1004061297.story#/news/ask-billboard-indies-no-2-hits-teddy-pendergrass-1004061297.story. 
  33. ^ Trust, Gary (February 3, 2011). "Weekly Chart Notes: Amos Lee, Far*East Movement, Kelly Clarkson". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. http://www.billboard.com/#/column/chartbeat/weekly-chart-notes-amos-lee-far-east-movement-1005020782.story. Retrieved February 8, 2011. 

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