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Currently, Billboard utilizes a system called Nielsen Sound Scan to track sales of singles, albums, videos and DVDs.
Essentially, it's a system that registers sales when products are purchased from Sound Scan-enabled stores.
The Billboard charts tabulate the relative weekly popularity of songs or albums in the United States. The two primary charts - the Hot 100 (top 100 singles) and the Top 200 (top 200 albums) factor in airplay, as well as music sales in all relevant formats.Billboard also uses a system called Broadcast Data Systems, or BDS, which they own as a subsidiary, to track radio airplay.Each song has an "acoustic fingerprint" which, when played on a radio station that is contracted to use BDS, is detected.Before September 1995, singles were allowed to chart in the week they first went on sale based on airplay points alone.The policy was changed in September 1995 to only allow a single to debut after a full week of sales on combined sales and airplay points.