Television Listings

Classic rockers upgraded to key pop chart

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Good news for fans of Michael Jackson, the Beatles and other veteran artists.

The compilers of the Billboard 200, the benchmark pop albums chart in the United States, said on Wednesday they would dramatically overhaul the listing later this month to include catalog recordings as well as current releases.

The Billboard 200 generally lists only albums released in the past 18 months, and accordingly failed to reflect two of the biggest events in the music world this year: Jackson's death and the reissue of the Beatles catalog.

Fans scooped up millions of copies of both artists' albums, but an 18-year-old policy at trade publication Billboard meant that the stampede was marked in its relatively obscure Top Comprehensive Albums chart, which combines both current and catalog releases.

The comprehensive chart essentially becomes the new Billboard 200. The change takes effect for the week ended November 22. Sales data, collected by tracking firm Nielsen SoundScan, are published on Wednesdays.

If last week's Billboard 200 were based on overall sales, 35 catalog titles would storm the chart, led by Jackson's "Number Ones" at No. 13, Billboard said.

The 2003 compilation was the top album in the United States for six weeks in the wake of his June 25 death, and Jackson is the second-biggest selling artist of the year, just behind country star Taylor Swift.

The first new-look Billboard 200 could include up to seven of Jackson's solo catalog titles, as well as a pair from the Jackson 5, depending on overall sales.

The Beatles reissued their digitally remastered catalog in September. First-week sales would have sent five of the group's albums into the top 10 of the Billboard 200, led by "Abbey Road" at No. 3. The new chart could also include up to seven Beatles albums.

Greatest-hits albums by the likes of Bob Marley, Journey, Guns N' Roses and Creedence Clearwater Revival could also make the cut.

"After 30 years, Journey fans are enthusiastic about going to concerts and buying the band's music, but, until now, we've been relegated to being a 'catalog' artist," said Journey's manager, John Baruck.

"We commend Billboard and SoundScan for this change and it's rewarding that this chart will now accurately portray what is really going on in the national marketplace."

(Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Jill Serjeant)

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