Ongoing History Daily: What are TEAs and why does the music industry care?

In the old days, music charts were compiled using two pieces of data: the number records sold and radio airplay. In the digital era, those metrics are woefully inadequate, especially when to take streaming into account. This is the story behind TEAs, which stands for “Track Equivalent Albums.”

When streaming started to take off—something that cut deep into sales of songs and albums—it was decided that 1,500 streams per album or 150 streams per song would equal one physical sale.

That’s since been tweaked a little bit, reflecting whether you’re listening as a paying subscriber to a streaming service or using the free ad-supported tier on Spotify. If you pay, it’s 1,250 streams per album and 125 per song. If you’re listening on a free tier, it’s 3,750 streams per album and 375 per song.

Complicated? Yes, but so is compiling meaningful charts these days.

Monday’s post was about a Foo Fighters error that turned out to be the best thing ever.

And don’t forget to check out my podcast The Ongoing History of New Music where you listen on SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogleStitcher, or wherever you get your on-demand audio.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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