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OVER AND OUT: THE BIBLE’S BUNDLE DISASTER

With the relevance of Billboard at an all-time-low ebb, the Bible’s brain trust has offered a further slap in the face to artists and the rest of the biz with its abrupt and wildly ill-timed decision to cut off bundles for charts in early October, making 2020 the first year ever to have different metrics during one calendar year—and creating an uneven playing field once again by wiping out historical comparative data.

This shows such an utter lack of respect for—and understanding of—the business by civilians Deanna Brown and Modi Wiczyk that major labels are already threatening to stop doing business with the Bible. This move on bundling, which will make their charts so much less meaningful, exemplifies just how out of touch they are.

It’s pretty clear that nobody cares about the Bible anymore; while its own charts once ruled the biz, they’ve been eclipsed by the only ones that really matter now: the Spotify streaming charts and the Mediabase airplay charts. While getting a Top 10 or Top 20 record on a Billboard chart used to be significant, now it’s meaningless—they made themselves irrelevant with their own methodology. Ask yourself: When was the last time you heard someone say, “We’re Top 20?”

Removing these bundles is an anti-rock and anti-country move, and means that a #1 chart debut—the only meaningful spot on a Billboard chart, make no mistake—is now out of reach for all but the top-streaming artists. What’s more, the revenue from merch bundles has been offsetting lost touring revenue for these acts, whose income has overwhelmingly come from the live side.

The branding opportunity that merch bundles offer artists has been a real career booster for more than a handful of acts. Having appealing merch associated with an album can significantly spike its cool factor.

Looking beyond the present squeeze, marketing dollars fronted by labels are dwarfed by the monies spent promoting tours. Tour marketing money is massively important in creating awareness and interest around new releases. Ticket bundles enable labels to benefit from that sizzle—now taken away by the Bible cabal. An opt-in model would let these acts compete for top chart positions, get their new music more easily to fans and maintain these revenue streams more effectively.

Instead of starting these big changes in October, why not wait for the start of 2021, so everyone gets to reset with a level playing field? Their awful handling of this incredibly sensitive issue is just one more middle finger flashed at the biz—causing many observers to wonder aloud: if Billboard disappeared tomorrow, would anyone care?

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