iTMS Downloads Now Tracked By SoundScan

From now on all purchases made on the iTunes Music Store and other similar services will be tracked on a new Billboard chart. According to a Reuters article, Nielsen Soundscan has added online music sales to itis "nontraditional" category. This news comes as download services like the iTMS have been picking up steam and finally becoming a larger part of music distribution for the record companies. From the article:

"Iim glad theyire starting it now," says Jim Urie, president of Universal Music & Video Distribution. "Having data to look back on and look at how youire doing this year vs. last year and how the different things that youire trying to do work and affect the market is good. Itis better to have that sooner than later."

"Itis only appropriate that [they] track all streams of music sales," adds Phil Quartararo, executive VP of EMI Music Marketing. It "further legitimizes the digital download format as a viable business model."

Sales data initially will come from the digital-music services run by Apple Computer, Liquid Audio, MusicNet, RealNetworks and Roxio. Streams and other non-permanent digital-music sales will not be included.


Speaking on the day of the SoundScan announcement, Urie said he had already assigned three employees to analyze the download data. He also said they were calculating market shares and "trying to draw some correlations between this and the physical world and what is driving some of the activity on the chart."

What might this announcement and the download music service push mean for the music industry in general? An article in Stereophile Magazine had this to say:

Some analysts believe that SoundScanis Internet tracking could ultimately alter the music industryis approach to launching new talents?such as debuting them with single songs rather than entire albums. In that sense, Internet music could bring the industry full circle, back to its original agenda of selling individual songs. As Internet users have known for years, debuting new artists on the Web would sharply reduce the costs of "breaking" them to the public.

More information can be found in the original Reuters article and in the Stereophile Magazine article.