Indie Music

Vinyl trades call Billboard chart change ‘abdication of responsibility’

Two top vinyl manufacturing trade groups have joined a coalition of independent music stores in opposing the December 29th launch of changes in how sales of physical goods (vinyl, CDs, and cassettes) are counted for the Billboard Charts.

Data provider Luminate plans to shift from a modeled methodology, which takes sales from a sampling of stores and applies weighting to calculate total sales, to a direct representation of sales reported by U.S. and Canadian indie retailers.

The independent music community argued the change would collapse indie store sales figures since only 5% or 72 of the estimated 1400 indie stores report sales. Luminate counters that reporting from these stores – an estimated 72 out of 1400 – represents as much as 93% of all US and Canadian sales.

On Monday, the Vinyl Record Manufacturers Association (VRMA) and the Vinyl Alliance renewed their call for Luminate to delay the change.”

“We at the VRMA and the Vinyl Alliance are disappointed with Luminate’s decision to move forward with their new direct reporting method for independent physical retailers starting December 29th.

As previously stated, we are committed to accurate data and reporting. But with approximately 5% of independent physical retailers currently reporting into the system, the data collected will be a grossly inaccurate representation of the sales of physical products in general and vinyl specifically, and therefore, the overall size and strength of the industry will be underrepresented.

We expect Luminate to expedite its efforts to onboard sufficient numbers of independent music retail locations to offset the removal of their current weighting calculation. Anything short of this is an abdication of their responsibility to measure and publish accurate and accountable results.

The public has the right to know that all sectors of the retail music business are represented accurately when Billboard announces its weekly charts. Without sufficient representation, this change will erode confidence in both Luminate’s market measurement and Billboard as the publisher of the weekly charts. The VRMA is actively engaging with an alternative third-party reporting source, to collect and report quarterly data at the record-pressing plant level to ensure that we have a counter-balance to Luminate’s reporting.”

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.

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