Billboard 200

From Academic Kids

The Billboard 200 is a listing of the 200 highest selling music albums in the United States, published weekly in Billboard magazine. It is frequently used to convey the popularity of an artist or groups of artists. Often, a musical group will be remembered by its "number ones", those of their albums that outsold all others during at least one week.

Billboard began publishing album charts on March 24, 1945, expanded to the current size and name on March 14, 1992. Since May 26, 1991, the Billboard 200 positions have been derived from Nielsen SoundScan sales data, currently contributed by approximately 14,000 music sellers. Because these numbers are supplied by a subset of sellers rather than record labels, it is common for these numbers to be substantially lower than those reported by the Recording Industry Association of America when Gold album awards are announced (RIAA awards reflect wholesale shipments, not retail sales).



The Billboard 200 can be helpful to radio stations as an indication of the types of music listeners are interested in hearing. Retailers can also find it useful as a way to determine which recordings should be given the most prominent display in a store. Other outlets, such as airline music services, also employ the BIllboard charts to determine their programming.


The chart omits unit sales for listed albums and total recorded sales, making it impossible to determine, for example, if the number one album this week sold as well as the number one from the same period in the prior year. It is also impossible to determine the relative success of albums on a single chart; there is no indication of whether the number one album sold thousands more copies than number 50, or only dozens more. All music genres are combined, but there are separate Billboard charts for individual market segments. The complete sales data broken down by location is made available, but only in the form of separate SoundScan subscriptions.


According to the December 1, 2001 issue of Billboard, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon has been on the charts for a total of 1,285 weeks, or just under 25 years. Its closest rival is James Taylor's Greatest Hits, checking in at 573 weeks on the chart. Taylor can expect to reach Pink Floyd's record number in about 13 1/2 years.

It is worth noting that these longevity records will probably never be broken. Beginning in the nineties, Billboard created a new policy and chart in order to keep the Billboard 200 as fresh as possible and to give charting opportunities to to developing artists. Albums that are two years old and have fallen below rank #100 are permanently removed from the Billboard 200 and moved to the Top Pop Catalog chart. This newer chart features best-selling "older" albums and it contains a unique column which tallies "total weeks," meaning the cumulative total of weeks the album spent on both the Billboard 200 and the Top Pop Catalog chart.

By the end of May 2005 Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of the Moon still held the grand total longevity record, with 1450 chart weeks, or over 27 1/2 years.

The soundtrack to the musical South Pacific spent 31 weeks on top of the Billboard 200 in 1947. They were not all consecutive.

With the 2001 release of Janet Jackson's hit album All For You, she because the first female performer to score 5 back to back #1 studio albums on the Billboard 200, Control, Rhythm Nation 1814, janet. and The Velvet Rope all hit #1 (most chart-watchers do not count a greatest hits package which peaked at #3 in 1995).

Rapper DMX earned a similar record in 2003 when his album Grand Champ became his fifth consecutive album to enter the chart at #1. He is the first artist to have his first five releases debut at #1 (DMX's five #1s represent his entire Billboard 200 chart history).

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