What is a sound scan ? Google gives a clear definition of SoundScan as a tracking system operated by the ACNielsen, that tracks sales of music and music video products throughout the United States and Canada. Any music product that carries a UPC or EAN barcode and ISRC code is eligible to be tracked by SoundScan.
Soundscan is still the king of the hill as it relates to reporting on music in retail,video, and the digital space. Many people are very familiar with the music industry corrupt pays for plays, or payola as it is called or has been called over the years. Also, you may remember when Red Man spit a verse that said “Are you dope when you pay for your BillBoard Spot.” Well thanks to Soundscan they brought back the honesty in the Billboard reporting system.
In an article by Ultimate Classic Rock they go into great detail about Soundscan and the Billboard reporting system. A statement taken from the article reads as follows “On May 25, 1991, Billboard made a change to the Billboard 200 Top Albums, when the magazine began using SoundScan data to tabulate the positions on the top albums chart. After decades of gathering numbers via a flawed honor system, the industry leader in deciding what was “popular” in popular music started employing accurate sales reports. SoundScan’s data collection returned the power to the people, the genuine fans who buy and listen to music.”
The Music Industry, and Billboard may have had a long history of unfair reporting practices when it comes to what people are listening to on the Billboard charts, and who is actually buying the music, but Soundscan has help to clear a lot of that up over the years.