For true record-sales nerds, there is no greater source of raw data than the Soundscan numbers. Though the measuring method was greeted with controversy when Nielsen introduced it in 1991, Soundscan has become the industry-accepted system of charting album and single sales, and its results often contain a lot of cold, hard truths: That beloved indie-rock band that you assumed made it big when they signed to the majors? They’ve barely pushed 50,000 copies. The lame-ass rapper with that cheesy single? He’s done 2 million in just a few weeks. Having access to Soundscan figures makes for many a daily reality-check.
The catch is that few people actually have access to these numbers, as they’re so expensive to obtain. As of last fall, subscribing to the full database would cost you nearly $15,000 per quarter. You might be able to find someone with a subscription who could do a few searches for you, but unless you had deep pockets, you had no way of finding regularly updated sales info. And now it’s going to get a lot harder: Last week, both Absolutepunk.net and Urbanconnects.com received cease-and-desist letters from Nielsen, demanding that Soundscan numbers be pulled from the site (we have zilch legal training, but we’re guessing it’s because the stats are protected proprietary information). Anyway, we’re wondering whether this may be the beginning of a crackdown, so if you’ve had tangles with Nielsen in the last few days–or heck, in the past few years–drop us a line at email@example.com.