Sound & Vision: Bundling and Gaming the Billboard Charts

“Bundling” – or providing free album download codes with everything from t-shirts and concert tickets to energy drinks and pizzas – has become a mainstay in pop music. The practice has its roots in the math Billboard uses to chart albums – downloading an album counts significantly more than streaming it. But, many artists and their labels are raising concerns that purchasing merch or concert tickets doesn’t prove that people actually want to buy an album. Sound & Vision host Emily Fox spoke with pop critic and chart analyst Chris Molanphy about “bundling” and the controversy surrounding it.

Podcast audio. Transcript of selected excerpts.