Michael Jackson once again excluded from Billboard 200

Michael Jackson, looking awesomeTo nobody’s surprise, Michael Jackson has broken Billboard records in the week after his death. More than anything, this week’s sales data once again points out the anachronistic stupidity of the way Billboard separates “catalog” albums from “current” albums in its chart system. The Billboard 200 excludes anything that is more than two years old and that has fallen below position 100 on the Billboard 200. Why? Who knows?

Back in February of 2008, when the 25 anniversary reissue of Thriller would have placed at #2 had it been included in the Billboard 200, Billboard’s “Sr. Director of Charts” Geoff Mayfield told Undercover News that “Sony-BMG stated a strong case and we did consider it… I took to heart their comments and then I took it to retail. The response I got overwhelmingly is that it is a catalogue album and belongs on the catalogue chart.”

That doesn’t really clear it up. Labels want reissues included in the main chart, but retailers don’t? Why would retailers care? The whole thing seems stupid to me. Billboard has a Top Comprehensive Albums list, but nobody ever sees it. It’s not published in the magazine and can only be viewed online with a paid subscription.

It’s just stupid to exclude older titles to the “catalog” ghetto, especially in this era of the long tail. The #1 album this week (Black Eyed Peas’ “The E.N.D.”) only sold 88,000: that’s 13,000 less than the third-best selling Michael Jackson album this week. Insane.

See the top ten of the Billboard Catalog chart after the jump…

Catalog Chart:

1. Michael Jackson – “Number Ones” – 108,000 (up 2,340%)

2. Michael Jackson – “The Essential Michael Jackson” – 102,000

3. Michael Jackson – “Thriller” – 101,000

4. Michael Jackson – “Off the Wall” – 33,000

5. The Jackson 5 – “The Ultimate Collection” – 18,000

6. Michael Jackson – “Bad” – 17,000

7. Michael Jackson – “Dangerous” – 14,000

8. Michael Jackson – “Greatest Hits: HIStory – Volume 1” – 12,000

9. Michael Jackson – “The Ultimate Collection” – 11,000

10. “Woodstock” soundtrack – 8,000

The whole idea of album sales spiking after an artist dies seems creepy to me. Don’t you people already have these albums? Why didn’t you buy them when he was alive? Billboard reports: “Collectively, Jackson’s solo albums sold 415,000 this past week” compared to the week that ended June 21 when “his titles sold a combined 10,000” and through “the entire year up through June 21” Jackson’s catalog had sold only 297,000.

MP3: Team 9 – “Michael Jackson’s Scream vs. Beck’s E-Pro vs. AC/DC’s TNT” (courtesy of Team 9)

Michael Jackson: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki.

10 thoughts on “Michael Jackson once again excluded from Billboard 200”

  1. I think the reason retailers care is because the charts (which do somehow influence purchasing) were to be based strictly on sales we’d rarely see any new releases at the top. Labels often have discounts on new releases in early weeks to encourage retailers to position them prominently (because there’s a better margin on those sales) and thus, drive sales and chart position. That first week sales number still means something and it’s a weird cyclical, co-dependency but it is what it is. If this week’s chart was dominated by MJ, then maybe we wouldn’t be encouraged to buy the Black Eyed Peas?

    I guess I don’t know either…

  2. Sure, but I don’t understand why retail would give a crap whether people are buying a brand new Black Eyed Peas release or a 25-year-old Michael Jackson album. Especially if they both list for for the same amount of money.

    Do labels still pay retailers big bucks for primary placement, displays, etc.? Or is that illegal now?

  3. The good news here is that Wilco will chart nicely, whereas they’d likely be relegated to the teens were Jackson’s releases considered.

  4. this song comes to mind

    “At the record company meeting

    On their hands – a dead star

    and ooh, the plans that they weave

    and ooh, the sickening greed –

    Re-issue! Re-package! Re-package!

    Re-evaluate the songs

    double-pack with a photograph

    Extra Track (and a tacky badge) “

  5. Here’s the top ten of this week’s Billboard 200, courtesy of MTV:

    1. Black Eyed Peas – The E.N.D. – 88,000 (down 40%)

    2. Jonas Brothers – Lines, Vines and Trying Times – 68,000 (down 72%)

    3. Regina Spektor – Far – 50,000 (debut)

    4. Dave Matthews Band – Big Whiskey & the Groogrux King – 47,000

    5. Eminem – Relapse – 47,000

    6. Dream Theater – Black Clouds & Silver Linings – 40,000 (debut)

    7. “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” soundtrack – 39,000 (debut)

    8. Lady Gaga – Fame – 37,000

    9. Ginuwine – Man’s Thoughts – 37,000 (debut)

    10. “Hannah Montana” soundtrack – 34,000


    12. Mars Volta – Octahedron – 30,000 (debut)

    29. Dinosaur Jr – Farm – 14,000 (debut)

    MJ would’ve had the top three spots, and Lady Gaga, Ginuwine, and Hannah Montana would’ve been bumped out. None of MJ’s other releases would’ve made the top ten.

  6. What about other catalog releases though? Would The Eagles Greatest Hits knock out Eminem? I think some of these catalog albums regularly sell more than any new releases these days so our Top Ten might forever resemble your Uncle Mike’s CD collection on the boat.

  7. Yeah, I can see that. But the #10 catalog seller this week — Woodstock, the only non-MJ album in the top ten — only moved 8,000 copies. So we can assume that if MJ hadn’t died, that would’ve been the top seller in catalog. With only 8,000.

    Billboard.com doesn’t regularly post catalog sales numbers so I can’t compare it with previous weeks. But looking at recent Billboard 200 charts, the top ten “current” releases have all been selling at least 30,000…

    Regardless, it’s just lame of Billboard to not use the Comprehensive chart as the definitive chart. Because it is.

  8. i think it’s lame for mcdonald’s not to use the mac spoon as the definitive coffee stirrer. because it is.

Leave a Reply