It’s been nearly 3 years since we released SoundScan reporting, and during those 3 years we’ve reported a whole bunch of amazing releases. A ton of which were Top 200 releases (humble brag). But even though we have so many people using our SoundScan app, and reporting to SoundScan on a daily basis, we still have a lot of people that don’t. This is why we wanted to lay out a comprehensive way to do this. It costs very little, and with our automatic app, it’s incredibly easy to do.
What is SoundScan?
We should probably explain what SoundScan is and how it works, before we dive straight into the weeds. SoundScan is the music sales arm of Nielsen. Nielsen, of course, is a global information and sales tracking company. It’s almost like analytics for product sales. But SoundScan can only track the sales of your release, if you tell them what it is. This is where UPC and ISRC codes, come into play.
UPC = Universal Product Code
ISRC = International Standard Recording Code.
The first thing you must do, if you want to report your sales to SoundScan, is get a code. If you want to report a digital and/or physical album, you need a UPC. You can get this code from a number of different places. The best place is whoever you’re using to get your physical release manufactured from. But there’s a million other places too, just do a Google search.
Let’s Talk About Confusing Things
After you obtain the UPC, you still need to tell SoundScan you have it. This is where a lot of confusion starts to take place. Many people don’t realize you need to register that code with SoundScan. Or sometimes they forget. If you don't do that, they will have no idea that you're releasing an album. Here's the kicker: We don't know that you didn't register it, so we're going to report it anyway. That makes for a very exciting investigation. The code must be registered at least 2 weeks prior to the release date of the album. You can register the code here.
More confusion happens when SoundScans rules for reporting aren’t followed. For instance, you can’t sell an album for less than $3.49. I think you can understand why. Lets say you put your album out for $0.01, and then offered free shipping. You’re probably going to sell a lot more than if you sold them for $3.49 + Shipping. Not many artists could subsidize a release like that, so it’s against SoundScan’s policy to do so. Another important point about this. $3.49 counts discounts. Meaning, you can’t sell an album for $10, and then give out a $9 discount code, and then report those sales to SoundScan. They won’t be counted.
Want to hear about even more confusion? We get a lot of emails from people saying they sold X amount of copies of their new album, but when they received the email from us stating how many of those sales were reported to SoundScan, the amount was significantly less. The reason it’s less is SoundScan only counts sales taking place in the US. Meaning if you sell a copy to someone in Germany, it won’t be reported. Please remember this before you freak out.
Lastly, we want to link you to our help doc on how to report using Limited Run. If you follow our doc, you shouldn’t have an issue. But if you do have an issue, please contact us and we’ll point you in the right direction.