Billboard’s Top Independent Albums chart is opening its arms a little wider: In partnership with A2IM, the chart’s inclusion parameters will now be expanded to allow more independently owned labels to appear in the ranking. As part of the change, Top Independent Albums will now also be acknowledged as the official album chart of A2IM.
Beginning with the chart dated July 18 (tracking the week of July 3-9), labels that are independently owned and control their masters, but which are distributed directly through either Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment or Warner Music Group, will be eligible for Top Independent Albums.
Prior to the change, only labels distributed independently or through the indie arm of a major label group were eligible for the chart, which ranks the most popular independent albums of the week based on multi-metric consumption including traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA), as compiled by Nielsen Music/MRC Data.
Under the new guidelines, labels including Curb Records, Big Machine Records Group, Concord, Disney Music Group and others will now qualify for the ranking, which first launched in January 2000.
The new guidelines state that only independent labels or titles that utilize “sales, distribution, commercial or revenue services” directly through one of the three major label groups — UMG, WMG and Sony Music — qualify for inclusion. On the other hand, any independent label or title that utilizes sales, distribution, commercial or revenue services though a major label within a major label group — i.e. Atlantic, Capitol, Columbia, Def Jam, Epic, Republic, etc. — are not eligible.
“The team at A2IM and I are deeply honored to be able to work with Billboard to enact changes to the Top Independent Albums chart that will better showcase the best and brightest of the independent music community,” said A2IM president and CEO Dr. Richard James Burgess in a statement. “This is just one of the many ways that independent artists and labels have become a powerful presence in the industry. We hope to continue to work to let their voices and their music be heard.”
Added Billboard senior vp charts and data development Silvio Pietroluongo, “Billboard is thrilled to further our relationship with A2IM, Dr. Burgess, and its member labels by collaborating on this change to make Top Independent Albums more representative of independently-owned labels. We are proud to have A2IM recognize Top Independent Albums as the organization’s official chart.”
Today’s announcement coincides with A2IM’s annual (and first-ever virtual) Indie Week conference, which draws independent music leaders for four day of panels, meetings and workshops. The organization currently boasts over 700 label members.