Billboard is addressing the widespread concern.
In August of 2018, Nicki Minaj took to Twitter to expose the tactic that allowed Travis Scott's Astroworld to snatch the #1 spot from Queen. Minaj was especially ticked off because Astroworld's second week sales beat out Queen's debut. She highlighted how the majority of Travis' sales could be attributed to album bundling. After Astroworld released, Travis' put up new merchandise on his webstore every 24 hours for 9 days. Each item included a digital copy of the album, which contributed to Travis' chart placement. “Billboard says they’ll change the rules cuz of this,” Nicki swore.
Today, Billboard officially announced that they are making changes to their policy on album/merch bundles. Below are the new rules that will be in effect starting January 3, 2020:
"Moving forward, in order for an album sale to be counted as part of a merchandise/album bundle, all the items in the bundle must also be available for purchase concurrently and individually on the same website. In addition, the merchandise item sold on its own will have to be priced lower than the bundle which includes both the merchandise and the album. Further, merchandise bundles can only be sold in an artist's official direct-to-consumer web store and not via third-party sites...
Under current rules and moving forward, any approved piece of merchandise that is clearly artist- or album-branded can be bundled with a copy of the album, with those sales counting for the charts when the physical album is shipped to the customer or when the digital album is fulfilled to the customer. However, the merchandise/album bundle must be priced at least $3.49 more than the merchandise item alone. ($3.49 is the minimum price of an album to qualify for the charts.)...
The new policies do not affect albums that are part of a concert ticket/album sale redemption offer bundle, where the price of an album is part of the cost of a ticket and the album's inclusion is promoted to the customer at the beginning of their purchase experience. Then, after purchasing the ticket, the customer will receive an offer to redeem the album and have it mailed to them or to download it. Only the albums that are redeemed count toward Billboard's charts, indicating a desire by a consumer to receive the album."
Billboard mentioned how this revisions are coming as a result of "a public debate" regarding how "bundled album sales do not reflect customers' true interest in purchasing the album." Under these new rules, albums' chart positions will hopefully do a better job at capturing the public's demand and artists' achievements. Billboard also provided the enlightening fact that nearly every No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart at the moment has benefited from bundling.