New rules could put Beatles, Michael Jackson in Billboard 200

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Billboard will change the criteria for its weekly Billboard 200 chart, said the company on November 17. Beginning with the 2010 chart year, Billboard 200 will become a comprehensive list of top-selling albums in the US, rather than featuring only those albums with recent release dates.

Billboard 200 has up until now included only albums released within 18 months, after which point they are no longer eligible to make the chart. The company cited 2009 events such as the reissue of The Beatles' complete catalog and the death of Michael Jackson as reasons for the change. With the new rules, albums by these artists could make the Billboard 200 regardless of release date.

An important indicator for the international music industry, the Billboard 200 and other Billboard charts use data from Nielsen SoundScan, which tracks sales in the US.

Billboard's new rules will take effect with the 2010 chart year. That means charts refreshed on the site on November 26, or appearing in print December 5, will reflect the new system.

Billboard is making similar changes to its Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and is also adding a 15-slot Folk Albums chart for singer-songwriters and traditional folk artists.