How to access album sales numbers?
December 30, 2009 6:33 AM   Subscribe

Is SoundScan data available at a library? If not, can anyone help me with some album sales numbers?

Does anyone know if public libraries (in Atlanta if it matters) have access to SoundScan data? I am trying to pull some album sales numbers and don't want to shell out thousands of dollars for a subscription for a one-time access.

I have not been able to find anything online indicating that libraries have access to it, but it seems logical. They have dozens of data subscriptions, why not this one? It also seems like public information; dozens of sites post movie ticket sales.

If it is not available, can anyone pull the total US sales by album for the following artists: The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Elvis, The Eagles, Michael Jackson, Jay-Z, Tupac, Notorious BIG, Eminem, Dr. Dre, NWA.

Also, any idea what to use for before-SoundScan era releases? Thanks in advance for your help.
posted by toothless joe to Media & Arts (4 answers total)
for your first question, why don't you just call your library and ask them if they have it? the librarian will probably know right off the top of his/her head.
posted by crapples at 6:52 AM on December 30, 2009

The library almost certainly does not have SoundScan data, but it can't hurt to call and ask. You never know. Try the biggest library you can find, &/or perhaps the library at Georgia State. They have (or at least used to have) a commercial music department, so that would give them a legitimate reason to invest in a subscription.

You'd probably have better luck trying to find someone at a record company or Billboard magazine who will look it up for you. Or just call SoundScan and tell 'em its for a book report or something. You might find someone willing to do you a solid. Or maybe they'll sell you a one-time data dump or something.

Prior to SoundScan, sales figures were basically just based on what certain record stores reported that they sold. It was very unscientific and largely fictional.
posted by spilon at 7:00 AM on December 30, 2009

As spilon said, SoundScan is a private company and they sell their data to subscribers. Subscriptions are not cheap (priced for companies, not curious individuals).

Even if you have a friend who has access to SoundScan data it may not be that helpful to what you are looking for, since most of the artists you mentioned sold their records before the introduction of SoundScan.

Google/Wikipedia might be your best bet in trying to gauge sales by classic artitsts.
posted by kongg at 8:46 AM on December 30, 2009

For rough numbers, you can use the RIAA gold/platinum certification DB. In the U.S., gold is 500k and platinum is 1M, and they get additional plat's for every additional 1M.
posted by smackfu at 9:36 AM on December 30, 2009

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