Vinyl industry opposes ‘dramatic’ shift in music store sales reporting

The Vinyl Record Manufacturing Association (VRMA) and the Vinyl Alliance have joined forces to oppose Luminate and Billboard’s upcoming changes to how music sales are calculated from independent retailers.

Data from Luminate is used throughout the music industry including in the calculation of the Billboard Charts.

Starting in the first week of 2024, Luminate says that data on vinyl, CDs, and cassettes will reflect only sales at indie stores in the United States and Canada that participate in their new program. Until now, because only a small number of record stores report, sales have been algorithmically adjusted to get a more accurate number of total sales

That could mean that sales from 95% of independent stores will go unreported.  

“With less than 5% of independent physical retailers currently reporting directly to Luminate, the data collected will be a grossly inaccurate representation on the sales of physical products, and therefore the overall size and strength of the industry,” according to a joint statement from the VRMA and Vinyl Alliance. “There will be an immediate break between the market reporting by the RIAA and the IFPI, both important and globally recognized industry organizations.”

“Reviewing current data, the overall US physical market reporting could be reduced by as much as 40% in units and by 35% in value in retail dollars,” concluded the two trade groups.

Luminate has countered that the reporting from these stores – an estimated 72 out of 1400 – represents the vast majority of all US and Canadian indie music store sales.

A2iM (American Association of Independent Music) called Luminmate to pause implementation until store adoption exceeds 75%. An alliance of Independent Media Stores, Amoeba Music, Coalition of Independent Music Stores, Dept of Record Stores, and the F.A.M.S. (Forever A Music Store) Coalition also oppose the changes.

Bruce Houghton is the Founder and Editor of Hypebot, a Senior Advisor at Bandsintown, President of the Skyline Artists Agency, and a Berklee College Of Music professor.

Share on: