Kenny Chesney’s No. 1 Album Reopens Debate Over Ticket Bundles

Last 12 months, Billboard journal got here underneath intense criticism over how its charts accounted for gross sales bundles — when artists tack a replica of their new album as a bonus for getting a T-shirt or different merchandise, or a live performance ticket. Long a helpful advertising device, bundles have run rampant within the streaming age, resulting in considerations about chart manipulation.

The contest on this week’s album chart is a case in point, as the country star Kenny Chesney beat out the hip-hop giant Drake by a narrow margin that largely came down to bundles versus streams.

Should album sales count if they come as part of postponed shows? And what would happen if a tour is canceled and a customer’s money is refunded — effectively making the album a giveaway?

Ben Kline, the general manager of Warner Music Nashville, Chesney’s label, noted that Chesney’s fans want the physical copy of his album and elected to get it through the ticket deal.

“Fans don’t necessarily buy a ticket to get a CD,” Kline said. “However, once they were told the cost included the price of a CD and they opted in, they were well within their rights to expect that on release day they would get what they rightfully paid for.”

In a statement, Silvio Pietroluongo, Billboard’s senior vice president of charts and data development, said even if a show is postponed, bundles should count on the magazine’s chart.

“If the show is ultimately postponed or canceled following the album release, the consumer is still in possession of the album originally purchased,” Pietroluongo said. “Therefore, we have decided to account for those units as a historical sale and part of the respective chart week, regardless of postponements or cancellations after the fact.”

The rest of this week’s Top 5 is held by young rappers who have landed high spots on the chart in recent weeks: Lil Baby is No. 3 with “My Turn”; DaBaby’s “Blame It on Baby” is No. 4; and Lil Uzi Vert is No. 5 with “Eternal Atake.”

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