The following post is a guest piece from one of our favorite industry lifers, Christopher Bianchi. Heed his advice.
When I started off playing in my friends basement, the thought of “tracking our music sales” was something that had literally never crossed our minds back then…Although it should have and I’m glad now of having grasped the concept many years later of how important it is to not only TRACK how many units you’ve sold but also to REPORT THEM with the proper outlets so they count.
Why?- There is the obvious- so the band or artist knows how many units they have sold. Then things stem further based on the situation such as: the booking agent or concert tour package. This is a way the agents and promoters all over have knowledge of your band and how it’s truly selling. From there they know how to appropriately place and book your size rooms, tours, festivals and events. That stems onward further into Record Labels. As an unsigned band- the label will see the proven sales numbers as a strong reason to invest in a partnership with your band. They can see that you’ve put in the work, time and effort to make noise and can now step in to help take things next level. This is also how you chart on Billboard with your first week and total sales.
Stemming even further from this- Endorsement and Partnerships will want to see hard proven sales numbers as a way to base there investment into that particular band or artist.
How?- This is surprisingly enough an outlet that goes unnoticed so very often with all sizes of bands. How to properly track and also register the sales you make?
You are going to need a few things in order to do so:
1. A Barcode for that particular album, single or EP. (These can be purchased often for a few dollars from numerous websites online. You purchase and register the title to that barcode- all done right on the website such as: speedy barcodes.com. From there you are on your way. They will send you a download of the barcode that you will use for registering via soundscan as well as adding to the official album back of the artwork when printing. You will use this barcode number to input the album with Atvenu.
2. Register the barcode to Nielson Soundscan. This is a VERY IMPORTANT part of the process. Soundscan are the title tracking company responsible for keeping all the numbers on file for sales. You must go to “Register A New Title” and input all of the information of your release. Album, EP, or Single. Add the release date and the barcode number with the rest of your information. Then hit submit. It takes a few days to register into the official system.
3. Atvenu– This is the platform that the artist uses to enter in all show and concert data such as: Date, Venue, Amount of Albums Sold, Cost. From here this is where on after each event you will submit the number of physical sales. The app runs a simple $10 per touring month for any artist which is WELL WORTH the investment to PROPERLY track your album sales. You simply add the album, barcode number and at the end of each show you have a line where the venue rep will sign (From any iPad,phone,etc)
Then you are able to submit easily that nights sales. The app then tracks all numbers and reports to Nielson Soundscan on your behalf every week.
Why not just report to Soundscan myself you ask?… Great question. That is because the Nielson system only accepts sales from certain special accredited sources. You must be a professional Record Label or something of the like in order to submit sales yourself. It also costs A LOT of money yearly. In order to do so independently, you must submit sales through a platform.
When it comes to digital release- these sales are automatically reported to soundscan via CD Baby, etc. However, to ensure especially in the physical department- It’s always the best bet to hand register each title.
Now PULLING official Soundscan reports are a whole different thing but luckily digital sales report to you monthly and physicals will be tracked through again the atvenu app!
Good luck and keep rocking!!
Christopher Bianchi is an Artist Manager at Mercenary Management who has been involved with the business side of music since he was just 14. Now in his late twenties, Chris lives with his wife, Kayla, in Ohio and spends his days helping artists of all sizes reach the next level(s) in their careers.