LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Billboard's weekly compilation of the 200 top-selling albums in the United States will incorporate streaming music and digital sales, the publication and music tracker said on Wednesday, in a move to reflect modern music consumption habits.
The Billboard 200 list of albums has been compiled by Nielsen SoundScan tracking album sales figures since 1991. The new chart, making its debut on Dec. 4, will reflect streaming data from services such as Spotify, Beats Music and Google Play.
Silvio Pietroluongo, vice president of charts at Billboard, said the streaming data will make the Billboard 200 chart "a better representation of music consumption activity."
"Album sales would mostly capture the initial impulse only, without indicating the depth of consumption thereafter," Pietroluongo said in a statement.
Album sales have been steadily declining, with current year-to-date sales totaling 209.5 million, a 13 percent drop from the same period in 2013. This has led to a fall in relevance of the Billboard 200 chart as pop music consumption shifted away from traditional album sales.
With streaming data and digital track sales, the new Billboard 200 chart will more accurately measure how much people are consuming.
But streaming platforms have faced obstacles as they become more prominent within the music industry.
Taylor Swift, whose latest album "1989" topped the Billboard 200 chart on Wednesday for a third week and scored 2014's biggest opening with 1.3 million copies, pulled her entire catalog of music from Spotify, saying in an op-ed article that "music should not be free".
Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Ken Wills