From Pekka Gronow: "...There is RIAA data on total sales, and a lot of
(mostly anecdotal) detail on specific companies. Sanjek's books on the music
business are helpful, but do not follow the development systematically..."
At that time record stores ordered new titles based on sales in other
regions of the country. Small labels learned that claiming inflated sales
figures could get their records into lots more stores. The RIAA
certification process was created by the majors to provide stores with
supposedly more accurate information although it only represents the number
of records placed in stores on consignment rather than actual sales which is
obviously still very misleading.
Actual sales figures were held very close for decades so as to avoid
competition in particular genres. This was also done so as to not tip a
label's artists off to their actual negotiating position. An old friend and
former RCA sales executive came up with the idea of using barcodes to track
actual sales and couldn't get to square one trying to sell the idea during
the 1970s. In 1991 the television ratings service Neilson finally managed to
put such a system in place creating an earthquake in perception about how
many and what records people were actually buying in the United States.
Bob Olhsson Audio Mastery, Nashville TN
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