Saturday, May 15, 2004

Nielsen Rating System points to possible deceit in RIAA sales figures

Ars Technica Newsdesk


A little investigative journalism can go a long way, and Moses Avalon has turned up something rather curious: the numbers that the RIAA uses to talk about "sales" are actually just numbers relating to shipments. The gist of it is pretty simple: the RIAA has their own tracking system based on units shipped, while Nielsen Ratings bases their Soundscan tracking system on actual barcode-scanned purchases. The problem is that Soundscan shows a 10% increase in music sales when comparing the first quarter of 2004 to 1Q 2003. Yet, the RIAA insists that music sales are down. Avalon suggests that sales aren't down, only shipments are. How can that be possible? Simple: in the past, the RIAA always shipped considerably more units than were sold. Why the change? Retails stores simply want less inventory, so they order less, even though they are selling more. [...]