For decades, musicians have been trying to catch the attention of major
and larger independent labels, in the hopes of landing that ever
elusive record deal. Mistakenly over the years, artists have believed
that record deals have been offered based upon the musical ability of
the artist, not sales. As hundreds of thousands of music fans can attest
to, who primarily listen to the radio all day, musical ability or talent
can't be the only gauge in which record companies find or decide on new artists.
Over the last 10+ years, the sales factor has become more known to
independent artists. A critical factor in whether or not an artist is
signed and even to what degree of commitment the record company will
promote the artist is Soundscan.
For those of who are new to the term Soundscan, it can be easily be
defined as the following. It is a system set up by the recording
industry to help measure and verify record sales from the bar code on
the CD, through sales at record stores, live performances and most
recently, internet retail sites such as Amazon.com.
With a proper bar code registered with and acquired from, the Uniform
Code Council (UCC), your CD sales at record stores like Tower, Virgin,
Sam Goody/Musicland, etc. are automatically tabulated through the cash
registers to a main computer at these companyís headquarters and then
forwarded to Soundscan, to be filed in your account under your name
and bar code number.
In the 1990s, Soundscan understood that verification of sales was
becoming more important to major labels, who were tracking the progress
of independent artists with their own CDs. With that understanding in
mind, they invented the Venture Verification Program, for the purpose
of helping independent artists who sell more CDs at shows than stores,
to show the real number of sales they have.
Recently internet sites such as Amazon.com have become
important contributors to Soundscan and verify the ever increasing
cyber sales new artists are capturing.
Once all these contributors send in their reports, anyone who subscribes
to Soundscan can review your file. So what does this mean for you?
If you are interested in getting a Priority record deal with a major
label or even a larger independent, one of the first items of research
they will do is to check to see if you have sold that magical amount of
10,000 to 20,000 CDs, in your home market and state. Then, how you did
it - whether through record stores or through live performances. After
that, they will review your online sales.
Soundscan also has another major role in your music career. If you are
using a distributor, Soundscan is used to verify actual sales and pay you!
So in the future when you are selling CDs, understand that verification
of those sales is critical for record companies to decide, whether or
not they want to sign you and to what degree they want to promote you.
Its also important as I just mentioned, if you want to get paid!
While other articles you will read will question the percentage of sales
actually recorded by Soundscan (because not all retailers or sites
report to them), the most important issue is, to take advantage of
Soundscan, you must have a properly registered bar code from the Uniform
Code Council. DO NOT use free bar codes from distributors or CD
manufacturers. They are not registered with the UCC, will not be
recorded by Soundscan and new this year, will cause you to be fined by
major retailers for using them.
Please make sure that you have a properly registered and recorded bar
code from the UCC and it is registered with Soundscan. Your music
career, its success, and your profits depend on it!
Author Tim Sweeney is head of Tim Sweeney & Associates, who are entering their 18th year of being, "the only true artist development company in the world."
Tim is one of the music industry's most sought after experts and consultants, and has written several influential books including "Tim Sweeney's Guide To Releasing Independent Records".
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