Do you ever want to check sales data for your music releases to see how they perform on a weekly basis in various stores or want to verify your sales reports? Then soundscan is place for you!
What exactly is SoundScan?
Nielsen SoundScan is an information and sales tracking system created by Mike Fine and Mike Shalett. SoundScan is a method of tracking sales of music and music video products throughout the United States and Canada. Data is collected weekly and made available every Wednesday to subscribers, which include record companies, publishing firms, music retailers, independent promoters, film and TV companies, and artist managers. SoundScan is the sales source for the Billboard music charts, making it the largest source of sales records in the music industry. Data is collected weekly and made available every Wednesday to subscribers, which include record companies, publishing firms, music retailers, independent promoters, film and TV companies, and artist managers. In order to have a chance at making the Billboard music charts, any release must be registered with SoundScan using UPC number (for the whole album) and ISRC codes (for the individual tracks). Without registration, the sales figures will not be counted, and will remain invisible to the system.
Sales data from cash registers is collected from 14,000 retail, mass merchant, and non-traditional (on-line stores, venues, digital music services, etc.) outlets in the United States, Canada, UK and Japan. The requirements for reporting sales to Nielsen SoundScan are that the store has Internet access and a point of sale (POS) inventory system. Submission of sales data to Nielsen SoundScan must be in the form of a text file consisting of all the UPCs sold and the quantities per UPC on a weekly basis. Sales collected from Monday-Sunday or Sunday-Saturday are reported to SoundScan every Monday and made available to SoundScan subscribers every Wednesday. Nielsen SoundScan clients include these:
- All major and many independent labels.
- Distribution companies.
- Artist managers and booking agents.
- Concert promoters and venue owners.
- Online retailers and “digital delivery” companies.
Anyone selling a music product with its own UPC or ISRC may register that product to be tracked by Nielsen SoundScan.
SoundScan is a subscription based service with many packages available for varying levels of access. Subscriptions must be negotiated with SoundScan. Billboard publishes music charts on a weekly basis which use SoundScan data, but do not give sales figures.
The incorporation of Soundscan tracking by the Billboard charting system was noted by the industry as being a possible cause of the early-90s popularization of alternative music in the United States; an explanation floated was that the previous call system provided data that under-represented marginal genres. Under Soundscan, exact data about alternative music sales allowed these acts to appear higher in the Billboard charts than before, and this chart success fed back into increasing the genre’s perceived popularity in popular culture. In addition, Soundscan data quickly found use in the promotion departments at major record labels, as a way to use sales data to persuade radio station music directors to add tracks by high-selling alternative artists such as Nirvana.