Today on the Lying with Numbers show...

Nielsen Soundscan Stops Making Sense

For like the 4th year in a row, Nielsen Soundscan is trying to convince us all that selling a billion things for $1 is somehow a sales increase over selling a half-billion things for $10-$15 each.

"According to the Nielsen Co.'s year-end figures, music purchases - CD, vinyl, cassette and digital purchases of entire albums (grouped together as total albums), plus digital track downloads, singles and music videos - attained a new high of 1.5 billion, up 10.5% over 2007." -- Ken Barnes, USA Today

This requires you to believe that selling three songs for $1 each is an improvement over selling a CD for $15. This is about the stupidest fucking way I can think of to measure sales when the price disparity between items is so great and the "gain" is in the cheapest item. But the L.A. Times went with it, using a headline that says "Overall music sales hit an all-time high in 2009; Taylor Swift's Fearless is the year's top-selling album." The truth is that no, they didn't, and no, it wasn't.

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2 Responses:

  1. Kevin Lyda says:

    To be fair, there's a cost to manufacturing and shipping around plastic discs, keeping inventory and selling them in shops. And I don't think it's a cost that necessarily leads to more profit or better music.

  2. Plus, as this is about companies, not artists, itunes sales means you pay the artist as if you sold a CD (rather than the much higher % for a licencing deal), but you don't have the making and moving atoms costs, so for the labels, it might be a win.

    For artists, this totally sucks.

    When is home taping going to finish killing the record companies?