12-04 THE VINYL RECORD MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION AND THE VINYL ALLIANCE ISSUE A JOINT STATEMENT ON THE UPCOMING CHANGES TO LUMINATE’S REPORTING ON PHYSICAL SALES FROM INDEPENDENT RETAILERS
The Vinyl Record Manufacturing Association (VRMA) and the Vinyl Alliance have joined forces to voice their combined concern to Luminate’s upcoming changes to reporting methods for independent physical retailers. This fall Luminate, the entertainment industry’s preeminent data and insights company and Billboard’s data partner, announced that starting week one of 2024 data on physical sales (vinyl, CDs, and cassettes) will reflect a direct representation of those reported from indie retailers in the United States and Canada which have agreed to participate in their new program. Historically and currently, these sales are algorithmically determined due to the very small number of record stores contributing to the weekly sales activity acting as the representative base for the entirety of the Indie Retail market segment. This change is a dramatic departure from the current practice and one that will unfairly minimize numbers creating a seismic change in providing true insight into the importance and scope of both physical media and independent retailers and their impact on the makeup of the music business landscape. The joint statement from the VRMA and Vinyl Alliance is as follows.
“We at the VRMA and the Vinyl Alliance are committed to both accurate data and reporting. 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. 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. This break from the historic measurement process will have many consequences, most notably the decimation of market share currently held by Independent Retail. This reduction will have an immediate effect, and the downward perception of the value of the market will reverberate around the globe. We agree that accuracy is the goal and with the proper amount of time dedicated to onboarding an expansive list of new Independent Retail reporters we will arrive at the desired destination - an accurate measure of the market confirming the most popular artists in any given chart week.”
The sale of Vinyl Records has seen continual growth year-over-year for the past 16 years. Last year, in 2022, was the first time in over 30 years that vinyl record sales surpassed the sale of CD’s. In the U.S. Vinyl sales YTD for 2023 in the United States, as reported by Luminate, are up 18.4% from the previous period (39.5M units vs.33.3M units). There are currently fifty-two pressing plants in the US that are conservatively producing 193,550,000 record discs per year. Globally, the annual number is 360,180,000, with close to 200 plants targeted to be online by the first quarter of 2024.
“The continued growth in vinyl sales was the impetus for starting the Association, says VRMA President and Chief Creative Officer of Hand Drawn Pressing’s Dustin Blocker. “This new reporting would be a widely imprecise reflection of the popularity of physical products and the strength of the industry as a whole, with the potential to have a large ripple effect on not just pressing plants but the entire vinyl value chain. We have over 50 members from across the industry which include half the pressing plants in the United States, but also audio companies, plating, mastering, print, packing, technology, record labels, and, of course, record stores, all of whom would be affected.”
Says Michael Kurtz, co-founder of Record Store Day and Vinyl Alliance member, "The most devastating thing that any corporation could do to an artist, a record label, a vinyl manufacturer, or a record store is to take away the sale of an album. All of the resolve of the artist, all of the passion of the artist, all of the efforts to bring the artist’s creation to their fans by their record label, vinyl manufacturer, and distributor, all of the hard work by the record store to support the artist, all of it, are all zeroed out by Luminate and Billboard with this change. It will not increase accuracy in reflecting sales, but only create more doubt of the legitimacy of Billboard’s charts.
ABOUT THE VRMA
The VRMA is a professional trade association of independent businesses committed to the craft of vinyl record manufacturing through collaboration, advocacy, standardization, and education. The association serves to advocate and promote the vinyl record manufacturing industry while providing the latest and most accurate information to the industry at large. The association offers a forum for member companies to engage in ongoing discussions and provide external communications concerning various issues and opportunities related to other new technologies that may emerge.
ABOUT THE VINYL ALLIANCE
The Vinyl Alliance is a global industry group committed to the future of the vinyl record business. The Alliance unites prominent players from across the global vinyl record value chain to exchange knowledge and work together to jointly address issues facing the industry. Vinyl Alliance members include record labels, manufacturers, materials and component suppliers, retailers, printers, and many others. Together, Vinyl Alliance members work to strengthen vinyl’s position in the recorded music market and advocate for vinyl records as a premium listening experience with unique cultural significance.
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