One month ago, Digital Music News reported that vinyl groups were prepping an alternative sales-calculation model following controversial changes from Luminate. Now, the Vinyl Record Manufacturing Association (VRMA) and others are rallying behind a newly launched “Indie Sales Chart.”
The VRMA emphasized its support for the Indie Sales Chart via a formal release, about five weeks after Luminate doubled down on plans for a revamped approach to calculating physical sales at the retail level. Already in effect, these changes have, in brief, seen the Billboard chart-data provider cease estimating physical music sales figures for the whole indie sector based upon samples.
Instead, Luminate is now factoring solely for vinyl sales reported to it directly by indie retailers in the U.S.; according to the mentioned Billboard, the data company says its present reporting encompasses 95 percent of “U.S. independent retail stores that reach over 1,000 sales per week.”
But the VRMA and an objective analysis of pertinent sales stats suggest that a significant number of retailers have been left behind under the new system.
Enter the aforesaid Indie Sales Chart, which is being billed as a joint initiative from Record Store Day, StreetPulse (which had already powered the latter’s existing chart), and HITS.
Per the VRMA, this alternative chart “will track point-of-sale data from independent retailers” – over 200 of which are said to be enrolled at present, “with more on the way.” The organization also took the opportunity to reiterate vinyl’s long-running sales resurgence in the U.S. and other nations.
“The 2023 numbers have indicated that the demand of vinyl is continuing to grow,” VRMA president (and Hand Drawn Pressing chief creative officer) Dustin Blocker communicated in part. “Luminate’s new reporting, with such a small percentage of indie retailers onboard, is an inaccurate representation of the strength of the record pressing industry, with the potential to have a negative ripple effect on pressing plants and the vinyl supply chain.”
As 2024 progresses, it’ll be worth monitoring the number of additional retailers that begin submitting data for the Indie Sales Chart. Bigger picture, time will tell whether the just-established chart can draw substantial attention away from its Luminate counterpart and/or prompt fresh changes in the calculation methodology at hand.
Regarding vinyl’s previously noted comeback in countries besides the U.S., trade-body breakdowns likewise point to strong showings in Italy, Spain, Japan, and the U.K., to name a few.