So this didn’t age well. Back in 2019, we wrote about Billboard’s new reporting rules around bundles, and said this:
“We’d much rather help artists understand these rules than try to find loopholes around them. We believe this will lead to a better and more even music landscape. We’d like to help artists increase their sales while remaining well within the posted rules.”
That spirit is as true today as it was then. At Single, our mission is two-fold: yes, we give opinions on industry changes that will affect musicians at all levels, but moreover we aim to provide tangible solutions and information independent and rising artists can use to move forward.
Yet here we are, some 15 months after the new rules began, and let’s be honest: it’s time to talk loopholes.
The rule change that launched Oct. 9, 2020, as they related to the disqualification of bundled music being chart reportable, were at least initially clear at face value. Admittedly, they were changes we strongly disagreed with. A system that was finally democratized for independent artists was fundamentally changed, throwing a new roadblock into a playing field that was, briefly, closer to level.
And then a funny thing happened on the way to the bundle store. Recently, we’ve seen examples (Carrie Underwood, Lana Del Rey, Guns N’ Roses) of box sets that sound suspiciously like bundles, but when squeezed through the hoops of a stringent list of requirements, are chart reportable. That’s right, the goal posts have moved...again.
So, you’re (hopefully) asking, why is this a big deal? Let’s first hit the logistics of boxes that now count as bundles (and, in turn, are chart eligible).
Items must be packaged in one complete boxed package
Individual items must be secured in their own compartment/slot
The Box must have visible branding that represents the album or artist
Box set must have its own UPC, separate from any other versions or variants
The sale of the box set counts as one physical album sale
All Box sets must be submitted to Billboard & MRC Data four weeks in advance of street/release date for approval
Sounds like one mighty high quality box, which of course is the root of the economy-of-scale issue at hand. Major label artists are already using these parameters as a means to tie merch campaigns directly into album releases once again. Well funded artists have the ability to hit the above checklist with little to no production issues. Yet even moderately successful indies are not going to have the resources to do this effectively or efficiently, and it’s going to cost them more than chart reporting is worth.
Let’s get back to that second important tenet of what we do: help artists deal with the rules, fair or not. So for better or worse, let’s help get you in a box and back on the chart-reportable track.
Once you decide what products you want to offer in your Box set, the next step is to create the packaging. We took a look around and found some cost effective solutions for creating the perfect housing for your project.
1. Determine the contents and packaging of your box set
2. Contact the Billboard / MRC team at least 4 weeks in advance of street / release date
But... where do I go to find customizable boxes?
Emenac Packaging offers a wide variety of custom packaging and printing solutions
UPrinting can provide smaller quantities at affordable rates with plenty of customization
Packola has no minimum on custom orders and their boxes are made from recycled material and sustainably sourced
Feeling a little boxed in (sorry, we had to)? You’re not alone, and we at Single are here to help you understand and navigate these rules. For our app users, we’ve created a handy form to submit the appropriate information directly to Billboard. We will be automatically copied on communications using this form to help everyone better understand the nuances of these rules and ensure that everything we’re reporting is allowed.
As always, feel free to reach us here at any time with more questions!