March 1, 1991 was the beginning of something different in the world of music sales. Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales data of music throughout the United States.
Nielsen SoundScan is an information system that tracks sales of music and music video products throughout the United States and Canada. Sales data from point-of-sale cash registers is collected weekly from over 14,000 retail, mass merchant and non-traditional (on-line stores, venues, etc.) outlets. Weekly data is compiled and made available every Wednesday.
SoundScan is the official sales source for the Billboard music charts. Before 1991, Billboard tracked sales by calling stores all over the U.S. and asking about sales. This method was inaccurate and could be manipulated easily by both the stores and the record companies.
Is SoundScan completely accurate today? Well, as with any rating system, it is watched carefully and most experts feel it is as accurate as possible. The biggest problem seems to be that not all stores subscribe to the reporting system. This means that any sales from that source will not be counted.
As a business, Nielsen SoundScan has many clients including all major and most independent labels, distribution companies, artist managers, and booking mangers. Online retailers, concert promoters and venue owners also use Nielsen to help in their business decisions.
As fans of Clay Aiken, the weekly SoundScan numbers have been interesting to follow. They fill you with excitement or bring disappointment. Whether Clay is on the Top 200 list or not, most of the Clay Aiken fan boards list the weekly SoundScan numbers. Be sure to check them out to see the trends in the music industry.
Most Clay Aiken fans are looking forward to watching for Clay to be active on the SoundScan reports in the near future.