Nielsen SoundScan

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Nielsen SoundScan is an information and sales tracking system created by Mike Fine and Mike Shalett in 1991. 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 Sunday (for albums sales) and every Monday (for songs sales) to subscribers, which include record companies, publishing firms, music retailers, independent promoters, film and TV companies, and artist managers. The Nielsen SoundScan is the sales source for the Billboard music charts, making it the largest source of sales records in the music industry.

Foundations Forum was the first exclusively heavy metal music industry convention, held annually from 1988−1997 in Los Angeles. The convention was set up by Concrete Marketing who had in January 1988 created the first industry trade magazine for the heavy metal world - Foundations. Realizing there was little or no attention or focus on this growing market, and having seen the far reaching distribution of the trade magazine, they decided to put together an annual meeting, bringing together key industry personnel, vendors and artists offering advice on surviving the industry, discussing the changing climate of the scene and business, and allowing people to network.

United States federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Canada Country in North America

Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Canada's southern border with the United States is the world's longest bi-national land border. Its capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. As a whole, Canada is sparsely populated, the majority of its land area being dominated by forest and tundra. Consequently, its population is highly urbanized, with over 80 percent of its inhabitants concentrated in large and medium-sized cities, many near the southern border. Canada's climate varies widely across its vast area, ranging from arctic weather in the north, to hot summers in the southern regions, with four distinct seasons.

Contents

Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales data for Nielsen on March 1, 1991. [1] The May 25 issue of Billboard published Billboard 200 and Country Album charts based on SoundScan "piece count data," [2] [3] and the first Hot 100 chart to debut with the system was released on November 30, 1991. Previously, Billboard tracked sales by calling stores across the U.S. and asking about sales – a method that was inherently error-prone and open to outright fraud. Indeed, while transitioning from the calling to tracking methods, the airplay and sales charts (already monitored by Nielsen) and the Hot 100 (then still using the calling system) often did not match (for instance Paula Abdul's "Promise of a New Day" and Roxette's "Fading Like a Flower" reached much higher Hot 100 peaks than their actual sales and airplay would have allowed them to). [4] Although most record company executives conceded that the new method was far more accurate than the old, the chart's volatility and its geographical balance initially caused deep concern, before the change and the market shifts it brought about were accepted across the industry. Tower Records, the country's second-largest retail chain, was originally not included in the sample because its stores are equipped with different technology to measure sales. [5] [6] At first, some industry executives complained that the new system — which relied on high-tech sales measurement rather than store employee estimates — was based on an inadequate sample, one that favored established and mainstream acts over newcomers. [7] [8]

The Billboard 200 is a record chart ranking the 200 most popular music albums and EPs in the United States. It is published weekly by Billboard magazine. It is frequently used to convey the popularity of an artist or groups of artists. Often, a recording act will be remembered by its "number ones", those of their albums that outperformed all others during at least one week. The chart grew from a weekly top 10 list in 1956 to become a top 200 in May 1967, and acquired its present title in March 1992. Its previous names include the Billboard Top LPs (1961–72), Billboard Top LPs & Tape (1972–84), Billboard Top 200 Albums (1984–85) and Billboard Top Pop Albums.

Paula Abdul American-Canadian singer and songwriter

Paula Julie Abdul is an American dancer, choreographer, singer, actress, and television personality. She began her career as a cheerleader for the Los Angeles Lakers at the age of 18 and later became the head choreographer for the Laker Girls, where she was discovered by The Jacksons. After choreographing music videos for Janet Jackson, Abdul became a choreographer at the height of the music video era and soon thereafter she was signed to Virgin Records. Her debut studio album Forever Your Girl (1988) became one of the most successful debut albums at that time, selling 7 million copies in the United States and setting a record for the most number-one singles from a debut album on the Billboard Hot 100 chart: "Straight Up", "Forever Your Girl", "Cold Hearted", and "Opposites Attract". Her six number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 tie her with Diana Ross for seventh among the female solo performers who have topped the chart.

Roxette Swedish pop duo

Roxette are a Swedish pop rock duo, consisting of Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle. Formed in 1986, the duo became an international act in the late 1980s, when they released their breakthrough album Look Sharp! Their third album Joyride, which was released in 1991, became just as successful as its predecessor. Roxette went on to achieve nineteen UK Top 40 hits and several US Hot 100 hits, including four US number-ones with "The Look", "Listen to Your Heart", "It Must Have Been Love", and "Joyride". Other hits include "Dangerous", "Fading Like a Flower", "Spending My Time", "How Do You Do!", and "Sleeping in My Car".

The Recording Industry Association of America also tracks sales (or more specifically, shipments minus potential returns) on a long-term basis through the RIAA certification system; it has never used either Nielsen SoundScan or the store-calling method.

Recording Industry Association of America voluntary association

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a trade organization that represents the recording industry in the United States. Its members consist of record labels and distributors, which the RIAA says "create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legally sold recorded music in the United States." The RIAA headquarters is in Washington, D.C.

In the United States, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) awards certification based on the number of albums and singles sold through retail and other ancillary markets. Other countries have similar awards. Certification is not automatic; for an award to be made, the record label must request certification. The audit is conducted against net shipments after returns, which includes albums sold directly to retailers and one-stops, direct-to-consumer sales and other outlets.

Tracking

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.

Cash register mechanical or electronic device for registering and calculating transactions at a point of sale

A cash register, also referred to as a till in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries, is a mechanical or electronic device for registering and calculating transactions at a point of sale. It is usually attached to a drawer for storing cash and other valuables. The cash register is also usually attached to a printer, that can print out receipts for record keeping purposes.

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.[ citation needed ]

Point of sale time and place where a retail transaction is completed

The point of sale (POS) or point of purchase (POP) is the time and place where a retail transaction is completed. At the point of sale, the merchant calculates the amount owed by the customer, indicates that amount, may prepare an invoice for the customer, and indicates the options for the customer to make payment. It is also the point at which a customer makes a payment to the merchant in exchange for goods or after provision of a service. After receiving payment, the merchant may issue a receipt for the transaction, which is usually printed but is increasingly being dispensed with or sent electronically.

A text file is a kind of computer file that is structured as a sequence of lines of electronic text. A text file exists stored as data within a computer file system. In operating systems such as CP/M and MS-DOS, where the operating system does not keep track of the file size in bytes, the end of a text file is denoted by placing one or more special characters, known as an end-of-file marker, as padding after the last line in a text file. On modern operating systems such as Windows and Unix-like systems, text files do not contain any special EOF character, because file systems on those operating systems keep track of the file size in bytes. There are for most text files a need to have end-of-line markers, which are done in a few different ways depending on operating system.

The Universal Product Code (UPC) is a barcode symbology that is widely used in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, in Europe and other countries for tracking trade items in stores.

Nielsen SoundScan clients include these:

Anyone selling a music product with its own UPC or ISRC may register that product to be tracked by Nielsen SoundScan.

Viewing

SoundScan is a subscription-based service with many packages available for varying levels of access. Subscriptions must be negotiated with SoundScan.[ citation needed ] Billboard publishes music charts on a weekly basis which use SoundScan data, but do not give sales figures.

Impact

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. [9] [10]

See also

Notes

  1. "Get Your Mind Right: Underground Vs. Mainstream". HipHopDX. 2008-02-11. Retrieved 2011-01-06.
  2. S. Craig Watkins, Hip Hop Matters: Politics, Pop Culture, and the Struggle for the Soul of a Movement, Beacon Press, August 15, 2006, ISBN   0-8070-0986-5
  3. Holden, Stephen (June 5, 1991). "The Pop Life". New York Times
  4. "Chart Beat Chat". Billboard. Archived from the original on 2013-09-29. Retrieved 2013-11-09.
  5. "Billboard's New Charts Roil the Record Industry". New York Times. June 22, 1991. Archived from the original on 2017-03-09. Retrieved 2017-02-17
  6. "POP MUSIC; Technology Gives the Charts a Fresh Spin". New York Times. January 26, 1992. Archived from the original on 2017-07-01. Retrieved 2017-02-17
  7. "The Accidental Chart Revolution : Pop music: Billboard's new method of tracking sales is a byproduct of a once-rival market research system". Los Angeles Times. May 30, 1991. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-03-09
  8. "POP MUSIC : Rock 'n' Roll Revolutionaries : SoundScan's Mike Shalett and Mike Fine have shaken up the record industry with a radical concept: accurate sales figures". Los Angeles Times. December 8, 1991. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-03-25
  9. "POP MUSIC; Technology Gives the Charts a Fresh Spin". New York Times. January 26, 1992. Archived from the original on 2017-07-01. Retrieved 2017-02-17
  10. Nathaniel Wice, "How Nirvana Made It", Spin Magazine, April 1992

Related Research Articles

The Billboard Hot 100 is the music industry standard record chart in the United States for songs, published weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on sales, radio play, and online streaming in the United States.

The Billboard charts tabulate the relative weekly popularity of songs and albums in the United States and elsewhere. The results are published in Billboard magazine. Billboard biz, the online extension of the Billboard charts, provides additional weekly charts. There are also Year End charts. The charts may be dedicated to specific genre such as R&B, country or rock, or they may cover all genres. The charts can be ranked according to sales, streams or airplay, and for main song charts such as the Hot 100 song chart, all three pools of data are used to compile the charts. For the Billboard 200 album chart, streams and track sales are included in addition to album sales.

A record chart, also called a music chart, is a ranking of recorded music according to certain criteria during a given period of time. Although in the UK, the official chart has only included physical sales and paid-for streaming, many different criteria are used in worldwide charts, including record sales, the amount of radio airplay, and since the popularity of online consumption of music, the number of downloads and the amount of streaming activity.

Top Heatseekers are "Breaking and Entering" music charts issued weekly by Billboard magazine. The Heatseekers Albums and the Heatseekers Songs charts were introduced by Billboard in 1991 with the purpose of highlighting the sales by new and developing musical recording artists. Albums and songs appearing on Top Heatseekers may also concurrently appear on the Billboard 200 or Billboard Hot 100.

Billboard Year-End charts are a cumulative measure of a single or album's performance in the United States, based upon the Billboard magazine charts during any given chart year. Billboard's "chart year" runs from the first Billboard "week" of December to the final week in November, but because the Billboard week is dated in advance of publication, the last calendar week for which sales are counted is usually the third week in November. This altered calendar allows for Billboard to calculate year-end charts and release them in time for its final print issue in the last week of December. Prior to incorporating chart data from Nielsen SoundScan, year-end charts were calculated by an inverse-point system based solely on a title's performance. Other factors including the total weeks a song spent on the chart and at its peak position were calculated into its year-end total. The same method was used for albums based on the Billboard 200, and songs appearing on the other charts.

Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems, better known as BDS, is a service that tracks monitored radio, television and internet airplay of songs based on the number of spins and detections. The service, which is a subsidiary of Nielsen Corporation provides the basis for Nielsen Media publication Billboard in the United States, while in Canada, BDS helps determine the Canadian BDS Airplay Chart and the Canadian Hot 100 chart, which is published by Jam! and in the website for Canadian Music Network, in determining their radio airplay music charts and determines the chart movement in Billboard's Hot 100 chart when combined with single sales from Nielsen SoundScan. From August 2006 to its final June 2009 publication, BDS also provided chart data for R&R after Nielsen acquired the trade. On September 10, 2009, the website Radio-Info.com struck a partnership with Nielsen BDS to provide radio airplay charts and related data for over 20 formats.

The Canadian Singles Chart is compiled by the American-based music sales tracking company, Nielsen SoundScan. The chart is compiled every Wednesday, and is published by Jam! Canoe on Thursdays.

The Regional Mexican Albums is a genre-specific record chart published weekly by Billboard magazine in the United States. The chart was established in June 1985 and originally listed the top twenty-five best-selling albums of mariachi, tejano, norteño, banda and duranguense, which are frequently considered regional Mexican. The genre is considered by musicologist as being "the biggest-selling Latin music genre in the United States", and represented the fastest ever growing Latin genre in the United States after tejano music entered the mainstream market during its 1990s golden age. Originally, Billboard based their methodology on sales surveys it sent out to record stores across the United States and by 1991 began monitoring point-of-sales compiled from Nielsen Soundscan. Musicologist and critics have since criticized the sales data compiled from Nielsen, finding that the company only provides sales from larger music chains than from small shops that specialized in Latin music—where the majority of Latin music sales are generated. The magazine decided to rank Latin music recordings in August 1970 under the title Hot Latin LPs, which only ranked the best-selling Latin albums in Los Angeles (Pop) and the East Coast (Salsa). Before the chart's inception, musicians' only chart success was the Texas Latin LPs section where regional Mexican music was more prominent. Beginning in November 1993, Billboard lowered the rankings from twenty-five to fifteen positions on its Latin genre-specific charts, while the Top Latin Albums expanded to fifty titles. From July 2001 until April 2005, the chart increased to twenty titles and then lowered back to fifteen titles. Since 2009, the Regional Mexican Albums chart list the top twenty best-selling albums determined by sales data compiled from Neilsen Soundscan.

Album-equivalent unit album

The album-equivalent unit is a measurement unit in music industry to define the consumption of music that equals the purchase of one album copy. This consumption includes streaming and song downloads in addition to traditional album sales. The album-equivalent unit was introduced in the mid-2010s as an answer to the drop of album sales in the 21st century. Album sales more than halved from 1999 to 2009, declining from a $14.6 to $6.3 billion industry. For instance, the only albums that went platinum in the United States in 2014 were the Frozen soundtrack and Taylor Swift's 1989, whereas several artists did in 2013.