What is SoundScan?

Tips

A lot of artists are ready to take the next step in their musical career, with that career there are a number of factors you need to know before you can rise and take over the world with your music. One of those things is SoundScan.

What is SoundScan?

SoundScan signs up stores and has a tracking system that is operated by ACNielsen (sounds familiar?) Nielsen tracks your music and music video sold in retail in America and Canada. Billboard uses these numbers for their charts that you can check regularly on their website.

How does it work?

Any song, video or album or any music product carries an UPC or EAN and a ISRC (barcode). This code is needed to track your music in sales with this system. Their sales numbers get collected weekly so it gets updated very often. Which is a good thing because sales don’t stand still. It is not used or royalty payments, but instead tracks song data for use in the charts.

Is this just for physical sales?

No, it isn’t just for physical sales. It also counts the music that sells in digital stores (like iTunes), but since 2014 they also include streaming into their tracking list. This makes it really easy, because everything comes from one source.

Are these numbers accurate?

In theory all the digital sales (streams and digital downloads) are completely correct. Because when labels and artists license digital rights to the seller, they need to report their sales to SoundScan. Digital is completely covered as you can’t really make up the streams or downloads that are shown.

There are a lot of independent stores that aren’t signed up to SoundScan. If they are not signed up, there is no way in knowing how much of your CDs or vinyl gets sold in that store. Which means there is a blind spot in the industry sales on physical music. Unless you want to contact every store one by one, this is the most accurate sales list you’ll get for in America and Canada.

How do I use it?

To start using SoundScan to track your sales data, you need to register your tracks with Nielsen and wait for them to be approved.

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