The reality of album bundles

How artists are manipulating sales in order to reach the #1 spot on the charts.

In the music world today, charting albums and songs seems to be the top priority for various musicians. The artists themselves and their fan bases fight for the number one spot, and some people point out the unfairness of doing ticket, merchandise, and other album bundles to boost their place on the charts. If it doesn’t seem like that big a deal, about half of the 39 albums that charted last year used ticket bundles from the artists, so yeah, it’s relevant. 

An album bundle is a marketing tactic used by the artist’s team to increase sales while also bringing the artist’s spot in the charts up. Upon purchasing a t-shirt, concert ticket, or other items sold by the artist, the purchaser will receive either a free digital download or a free physical copy of the album. 

Each album sold contributes to the charting. For example, Billboard uses data from sales, airplay, and downloads to track where each album should be placed. 

These album bundles have been used by various artists such as the Jonas Brothers, P!nk, The Chainsmokers, SuperM and Katy Perry. Taylor Swift took the reverse approach, encouraging fans to stream, buy her music, and buy albums in order to get special access to her concert tickets. They all reached the #1 spot, and there is a debate on if album bundles were the reason for it.

There is no doubt these artists are insanely talented and their merit alone is enough to have them charting, so the combinations of reaching #1 while having a ticket bundle seems a bit like a cheat for me. At this point, artists are begging for plays, for clicks and for chart numbers. They do this by combining what the fans want — merchandise/ concert tickets, and a free album for a low price. As a consumer, you will obviously buy the item or ticket due to the sweet deal provided. 

This is happening with foreign artists, too. The newly debuted Korean group, SuperM has released their first album, which reached #1 in its first week, all thanks to ticket bundles. They scrambled to attach an album to everything being sold: concert tickets, shirts, and even made a flash sale of signed posters with a digital copy of the album. 

In my opinion, this technique is a way of cheating the system. If you buy multiple items, each one you buy is one unit sale of an album. These artists rise to the top due to the false sales, which means the rightful artists who receive real streams, plays, and sales not get their recognition. The artists are now relying on popularity rather than their talents to reach the charts which throws other deserving artists under the bus.The art itself, in a sense, is lost too as it becomes only about selling units rather than having people genuinely listen to the album. It is more about numbers; artists will do all they can to get to the top, and bundles help them achieve this fast. Album bundles in the past were a way to get the artists releases more attention, but now it is a way to cheat the system to rise to the top of the charts.