Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

This page has been updated as of July 2022. The last update was 2017.

Q: When is the Billboard Hot 100 (singles chart) updated?

A: The full chart is normally released on Tuesday in the US, with the top 10 and selected other positions being posted up to 24 hours before the full chart.

Q: When is the Billboard 200 (album chart) updated?

A: The full chart is normally released mid week in the US, with the top 10 being posted on Sundays.

Q: What does “US digital sales” mean?

A: “US digital sales” refers to pure single sales in the US. Current week sales will be posted after the artist name and with the total since release in parenthesis. Singles released before the digital era have physical sales counts that are not included in these totals.

Example: Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” has sold 3.9m digital copies and an estimated 900,000 physical singles since release. While its actual sales would add up to nearly 4.8m, the post would read 3.9m total.

Q: What does “US Top Album Sales/US pure album sales” mean?

A: “US Top Album Sales” refers to pure album sales (digital and physical) in the US. Current week sales will be posted after the artist name and with the total since release in parenthesis.

“Est.” means the total is estimated. While most current albums are nearly exact, some are rounded to the nearest 250 or 1,000 copies.

Example tweet: “US pure album sales: Weekly rank # @Artist, Album title Copies sold this week (total copies sold).

If the amount of copies sold this week is not exactly known, the total will instead be located outside the parenthesis.

Q: Are BMG/other music club sales included in “US Top Album Sales/US pure album sales”?

A: No. Nielsen does not track these sales and most clubs are now defunct. You can find a list of top selling BMG titles here. These numbers are included in RIAA counts.

For example: Janet Jackson’s ‘janet.’ has sold. 7,073,000 pure copies according to Nielsen. Including 860,000 reported albums from BMG and streaming units, the album has moved over 8m equivalent albums in the US. It is eligible for at least 8x platinum and could be higher based on additional shipments.

Q: What does “Billboard 200” mean ?

A: The Billboard 200 is a chart that ranks the best performing albums in the US each week, combining pure sales, TEA and SEA. 

Q: What are TEA, SEA and SPS?

A: TEA means track equivalent albums. TEA is calculated by adding up all of the song sales from an album and dividing by 10. Thus, 10 song downloads from the same album is equivalent to 1 album unit.

SEA means streaming equivalent albums. SEA is calculated by adding up all of the audio song streams from an album. Premium streaming totals are divided by 1,250 and free streaming totals are divided by 3,750. Thus, 1,250 premium streams or 3,750 free streams from the same album is equivalent to 1 album unit.

SPS means sales plus streaming. It is a common way to express ‘units’ (pure, TEA and SEA all together).

Q: What are the requirements for RIAA certifications?

A: For songs, all official audio and video streams from within the US are counted in addition to pure single sales. 150 streams = 1 track sale.

For albums, all official audio and video streams (SEA) from within the US are counted in addition to TEA and pure sales. 1500 streams = 10 track sales = 1 album sale.

In addition, if an album shipped over 1 million copies to stores it can be certified Platinum without all 1 million of these copies being sold.

Gold = 500,000 units

Platinum = 1,000,000 units

Diamond = 10,000,000 units

Visit the RIAA website for more information.

Q: What does “eligible for Gold/Platinum/Diamond” mean?

A: If a track or album is eligible for a new certification, that means it has just surpassed a certain threshold but has yet to be officially certified. In most cases eligibility means that a new official certification should be expected in the next few weeks.

Eligibility for a certification does not mean the track or album is officially certified by the RIAA.

Example: Miley Cyrus’ “Malibu” was eligible for RIAA Platinum on or around 5 August, was officially certified on 28 August and the award was publicly announced on 31 August. 

Q: What are some different types of “US SPS units” calculations?

A: Chart Units – SPS total counted starting from the album’s release date. This means that units racked up by singles released prior to the album are not included in this count. Both audio and video streaming are now counted.

Total Project – SPS total of the entire album era including pre-album tracks in addition to the album SPS from the release date. Both audio and video streaming is counted.

Q: What does “[Example song] has now sold over 100,000 units in the US” mean?

A: A song has sold that many units based on download/pure sales and as well as on-demand audio and video streaming. It does not include other forms of streaming such as programmed and short form video. Video streaming is weighted differently from audio streaming.

Note: YouTube and other forms of on-demand video streaming are counted as of 2019.

RIAA has their own standard of counting streams. Unlike calculations posted on the account, RIAA counts sales and streams with the same ratio standards (150 streams = 1 single sale).

Q: Are “UK album/single sales” pure or SPS?

A: Almost always SPS. Specifically noted if sales are pure.

Got more questions? Leave a comment below or DM on Twitter.

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