MRC Data

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MRC Data_table_infobox_0

MRC DataMRC Data_table_caption_0
IndustryMRC Data_header_cell_0_0_0 Music dataMRC Data_cell_0_0_1
FoundedMRC Data_header_cell_0_1_0 1991; 29 years ago (1991)MRC Data_cell_0_1_1
FoundersMRC Data_header_cell_0_2_0 MRC Data_cell_0_2_1
OwnerMRC Data_header_cell_0_3_0 MRCMRC Data_cell_0_3_1
WebsiteMRC Data_header_cell_0_4_0 MRC Data_cell_0_4_1

MRC Data (formerly Nielsen SoundScan and Nielsen Music Products) is a provider of music sales data. MRC Data_sentence_0

Established by Mike Fine and Mike Shalett in 1991, data is collected weekly and made available every Sunday (for albums sales) and every Monday (for songs sales) to subscribers, which include record companies, publishing firms, music retailers, independent promoters, film and TV companies, and artist managers. MRC Data_sentence_1

It is the source of sales information for the Billboard music charts. MRC Data_sentence_2

The company operates the analytics platform Music Connect, Broadcast Data Systems (which tracks airplay of music), and Music 360. MRC Data_sentence_3

History MRC Data_section_0

Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales data for Nielsen on March 1, 1991. MRC Data_sentence_4

The May 25 issue of Billboard published Billboard 200 and Country Album charts based on SoundScan "piece count data," and the first Hot 100 chart to debut with the system was released on November 30, 1991. MRC Data_sentence_5

Previously, Billboard tracked sales by calling stores across the U.S. and asking about sales—a method that was inherently error-prone and open to outright fraud. MRC Data_sentence_6

Indeed, while transitioning from the calling to tracking methods, the airplay and sales charts (already monitored by Nielsen) and the Hot 100 (then still using the calling system) often did not match (for instance Paula Abdul's "Promise of a New Day" and Roxette's "Fading Like a Flower" reached much higher Hot 100 peaks than their actual sales and airplay would have allowed them to). MRC Data_sentence_7

Although most record company executives conceded that the new method was far more accurate than the old, the chart's volatility and its geographical balance initially caused deep concern, before the change and the market shifts it brought about were accepted across the industry. MRC Data_sentence_8

Tower Records, the country's second-largest retail chain, was originally not included in the sample because its stores are equipped with different technology to measure sales. MRC Data_sentence_9

At first, some industry executives complained that the new system—which relied on high-tech sales measurement rather than store employee estimates—was based on an inadequate sample, one that favored established and mainstream acts over newcomers. MRC Data_sentence_10

The Recording Industry Association of America also tracks sales (or more specifically, shipments minus potential returns) on a long-term basis through the RIAA certification system; it has never used either Nielsen SoundScan or the store-calling method. MRC Data_sentence_11

The first Billboard Hot 100 number-one song via Nielsen SoundScan was "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss" by P.M. MRC Data_sentence_12 Dawn. MRC Data_sentence_13

Other changes would also largely impact the Hot 100 in the future, consisting of radio-only songs being able to chart in 1998, and YouTube views playing part of how a Hot 100 is decided in 2013. MRC Data_sentence_14

In December 2019, Valence Media, the current parent company of Billboard, acquired Nielsen's music data business, reuniting it with Billboard for the first time since its spin-off to E5 Global Media from Nielsen Business Media. MRC Data_sentence_15

Tracking MRC Data_section_1

Sales data from cash registers is collected from 14,000 retail, mass merchant, and non-traditional (on-line stores, venues, digital music services, etc.) outlets in the United States, Canada, UK and Japan. MRC Data_sentence_16

The requirements for reporting sales to Nielsen Music are that the store has Internet access and a point of sale (POS) inventory system. MRC Data_sentence_17

Submission of sales data must be in the form of a consisting of all the UPCs sold and the quantities per UPC on a weekly basis. MRC Data_sentence_18

Sales collected from Monday-Sunday or Sunday-Saturday are reported every Monday and made available to subscribers every Wednesday. MRC Data_sentence_19

Anyone selling a music product with its own UPC or ISRC may register that product to be tracked by Nielsen Music. MRC Data_sentence_20

Sales calculation MRC Data_section_2

Because not all retailers participate in the SoundScan program, to estimate the total CD sales from the data samples obtained, SoundScan employs a calculation method called "weighting". MRC Data_sentence_21

This consists of assigning to a given category of store outlets a multiplying factor, to compensate for the amount of similar stores considered as not being covered by the sampling program and thus left unrepresented. MRC Data_sentence_22

Sales made at each stores would then be multiplied accordingly. MRC Data_sentence_23

Such system had however been long known and vulnerable to potential exploitation by artists, in order to inflate their recorded chart sales. MRC Data_sentence_24

Some indie labels were reported to purposefully target stores where such "weighted" value is higher for their on-site sales promotions. MRC Data_sentence_25

Likewise, other labels were found shipping boxes of their CDs to independent retailers to have them scanned there. MRC Data_sentence_26

Impact MRC Data_section_3

The incorporation of SoundScan tracking by the Billboard charting system was noted by the industry as being a possible cause of the early '90s popularization of alternative music in the United States; an explanation floated was that the previous call system provided data that under-represented marginal genres. MRC Data_sentence_27

Under SoundScan, exact data about alternative music sales allowed these acts to appear higher in the Billboard charts than before, and this chart success fed back into increasing the genre's perceived popularity in popular culture. MRC Data_sentence_28

In addition, SoundScan data quickly found use in the promotion departments at major record labels, as a way to use sales data to persuade radio station music directors to add tracks by high-selling alternative artists such as Nirvana. MRC Data_sentence_29

See also MRC Data_section_4

MRC Data_unordered_list_0

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: Data.