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How SoundScan Changed Everything We Knew About Popular Music

三十年前,广告牌改变了它的表格,将行业转向它的头部并为曾经考虑过的流域的流量,以便在国家意识中爆炸

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Elton John twice. Stevie Wonder. Bruce Springsteen. Michael Jackson. Whitney Houston. That’s it. The weeklyBillboardalbum chart—launched in 1956 as Best Selling Pop Albums withHarry Belafonte在上面,今天知道广告牌200.六没有准确记录。1将在第一个35 years of its existence. “The list is so famous, I can rattle them off off the top of my head,” says writer, podcaster, and consummate chart guru克里斯莫兰

和then he does. Sir Elton’s two albums from 1975,船长梦幻般和棕色的牛仔Rock of the Westies。Wonder’s immaculate歌曲在生活的关键in 1976. The Springsteen box set生活1975-85.,一个五乙烯基专辑在'86发布的五乙烯基专辑。休斯顿的第二张专辑,惠特尼,1987年,那一年晚些时候,MJ的Bad.(No, not 1982’s all-universeThriller,这在否定了。释放后11个月几个月,持续10周,才终于击败了杂散的猫和男人在工作for the top spot。)“All mega, mega superstars,” Molanphy says. “Not just superstars. Mega, imperial superstars at the absolute height of their imperiality, right?”

Right. The seventh album ever to debut at no. 1 on theBillboardalbum chart was Skid Row’s奴隶

No, not the Skid Row album with “18 and Life” and “I Remember You” on it: That would be 1989’sSkid Row, 哪一个peaked at no. 6在第33周。奴隶那the New Jersey hair-metal band’s 1991 effort, cracked the no. 1 debut pantheon for Chart Reasons, not Rock Reasons. (The cowbell action on lead single“胡闹”虽然。)在1991 - 30年前,1991年5月25日星期二 -Billboard开始使用Nielsen SoundScan数据来构建其专辑图表,其中包含所有图表,包括单打枢纽的热门100,最终遵循西装。意思是,该杂志开始使用扫描仪和计算机以及Whatnot销售相册销售,而不仅仅是调用一个时间和询问的记录商店他们for their individual counts, often a manual and semi-accurate and flagrantly corrupt process. This is the record industry’s Moneyball moment, its Eureka moment, its B.C.-to-A.D. moment. A light bulb flipping on. The sun rising. We still call this the SoundScan Era because by comparison the previous era might as well have been the Dark Ages.

First SoundScan revelation: Albums opened like movies, so for anything with an established fan base, that first week is usually, by far, the biggest. First beneficiary: Skid Row. And why not? “Is Skid Row at the height of their imperial period?” Molanphy asks of this ’91 moment. “For Skid Row, yes. But Skid Row is not Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Bruce Springsteen, or Stevie Wonder. Skid Row is a middle-of-the-road hair-metal band at the peak of their powers, relatively speaking. So it’s not as if they are commanding the field. It’s just the fans all showed up in week number one, and it debuts at no. 1. And then we discover, ‘Oh, this is going to happen every week. This is not special anymore.’”

下一个Soundscan启示:硬岩和重金属的方式比任何人想象的方式更受欢迎。同样处理替代石,R&B,最大,RAP和国家。1991年6月,N.W.A.的第二张专辑,efil4zaggin.命中否。1after debuting at no. 2 the previous week. That September, Garth Brooks’s third album, the eventually 14-times-platinumropin'风debuted at no. 1,金属后的一周最终是16次铂金自我标题黑色专辑debuted there。In early January 1992, Nirvana’sNevermind,9月9日发布,取代了MJ的Dangerous在否。1点,当时描述的世代人带Billboard本身就像A.“令人惊讶的宫殿政变”。

实际上过夜,SoundScan改变了谁来成为Mega,Mega Superstar和Domino效应的规则,杂志封面,电视预订,竞技场之旅以及媒体关注和音乐行业织造的其他战利品 - 是巨大的,如果有时疯狂地进入。当然,Garth,Metallica,N.W.a.,Nirvana和Skid Row已经非常受欢迎。但SoundScan完全揭示了如何受欢迎,当然,这当然是指数级帝国艺术家more受欢迎的。

这methodology involved—cash registers, bar-code scanners, and a national database that on launch day didn’t even include industry powerhouse Tower Records yet—is painfully mundane by 2021 standards. But the tools of revolution often are. “The old chart couldn’t begin to touch the democracy of this chart,” Timothy White, thenBillboard’s editor in chief,至ld纽约时报in January ’92. “There’s no question,” he added, “that our old system was subject to manipulation, and that people abused it.”

Which does not make the pre-SoundScan era an完全腐败自由。“从来没有那么透明度,以前把它直言不讳地说,”莫兰夫说。“音乐业务在这种杂乱中运营。这很有趣。当我说的时候,我听到你的嘲笑者,你应该。但是当我讲述Soundscan的故事时,我经常做的一点就是这个故事是'哦,腐败的旧记录业务。给他们一英寸,他们会拿一英里。Payola,Payola,Payola,'et Cetera。这是这个故事的另一部分,简单地“我们没有这种技术在1991年之前更好。”我们真的没有。“

但在1991年:让我们有光明。和滑行排。和Garth Brooks,againagain。和Paula Abdul。和范海伦。和比利雷赛勒斯。和冰块,1992年专辑掠夺者debuted at no. 1,只是击败惠特尼休斯顿保镖配乐,继续前进noise自己的。但是立方体是风湿性关节炎的早期迹象p music’s near-total takeover of the record industry. You could say that SoundScan saw these various genre revolutions coming. Or you could say that SoundScan, and virtually every chart improvementBillboard会挺身而道,帮助每个人都看到这些革命已经发生了。

这music business is forever a back-alley crapshoot at heart, but everyone in the early ’90s was真的猜测,无论他们是否会警察它。“当Nirvana Album爆炸时,我记得很好,”Billboard记者埃德克里斯曼那a three-decade veteran of the magazine who was there for the dawn of the SoundScan era. “That was an amazing thing. Everybody was scrambling to keep the record in stock.”

因为它甚至结果是Geffen记录,所以带来了带来的主要标签Nevermind那was guessing, even withNeverminditself. “They didn’t produce enough of it because they thought it was going to be a slow mover,” Christman says. “Matter of fact, I remember I was at a Musicland convention, and they did a product presentation, and they didn’t include Nirvana in the presentation. I went up to the [Geffen] head of sales, Eddie Gilreath, and I said, ‘What are you doing? That Nirvana album is freaking amazing.’ And he said, ‘Oh, that’s going to be a slow burner. We’re going to build that. But yeah, that’s a great record. We’re gonna really get behind that.’ And then I see him about a month later after it had blown up, and he said, ‘Ha, I told you! I told you it was gonna blow up!’”

音乐land was a powerhouse mall record store in the ’80s and ‘90s; kids, please don’t make me define购物中心, 或者唱片店, 或者for that matter the notion of a record not beingin stock。Soundscan时代开始作为技术武器比赛Billboardlost to SoundScan the company, founded by industry vet Michael Shalett and pollster Michael Fine, and since renamed MRC Data. This new venture was not exactly received with open arms: Shalett, in一个2001年纽约时报文章那recalled the industry big-shot who wagged a finger in his face after the chart changeover and barked, “You have single-handedly, in one week, ruined the music business,” only to much later declare, “Let me tell you, SoundScan is the greatest thing that ever happened to the business.”

当然,给出了Soundscan的关键知名度,这是Billboarditself bought in. “There was a disappointment that we had not succeeded in being the collectors of data ourselves, because that had been our original intent,” explains Geoff Mayfield, himself a pre-SoundScanBillboardveteran (in 1994 he was named director of charts) who now writes for several publications (Billboard包括)和教导洛杉矶音乐学院。SoundScan完善了公式,并更快地获得了记录商店;Billboard,成立于1894年,涵盖广告和账单发布产业,有行业群体给出这些新的数字合法性。“这就像一个霰弹枪婚礼,”Mayfield说。“但我们都需要它。”

业务也需要它。令人难以理解的是纯粹的腐败的腐败纯粹的创始原理,令人难以理解。弗雷奇丹肯landmark 1990 bookHit Men: Power Brokers and Fast Money Inside the Music Businessis a seedy and delightful overview of the pre-SoundScan vibe: Dig the story about a shadowy cabal of payola-saturated “independent promoters” who tanked the radio play of righteous 1980 Loverboy single “Turn Me Loose” when the Canadian hard-rock band’s label, Columbia, tried to stop paying for that promotion. But at first SoundScan was less a moral improvement than a mechanical one: The bar-code system was simpler and far more accurate, simple as that.

“我们知道我们的图表是模糊的,”Mayfield说,描述了调用每个唱片商店的旧过程。“他们是基于排名的报道。If you were reporting, you would tell us your Top 30, and then after that we would ask for X number of titles that were selling, quote, ‘Strong,’ and X number of titles that were selling ‘Good.’ We also knew that, aside from subjectivity coming into play, that there were efforts by record companies to have people report things as doing better than they were.” (Tom Silverman, then chairman of the rap label Tommy Boy, mildly observed in一九九九二年纽约时报“过去,主要标签将冰箱和微波微波发给零售商以换取商店报告,”一个继续在专业化的RAP和R&B图表上的计划,直到SoundScan也被采用。)

SoundScan没有消灭那些邪恶的冲动过夜。梅菲尔德在他的早期召回了一个Genial后音乐飞机对话Billboardcareer with a high-ranking CBS Records exec who summed up the potential new charts this way: “‘I want them to be more fair, but I want to have an edge.’” But a computer keeping track of a record store’s Top 30 is far preferable to a human being quite possibly improvising a Top 30 over the phone.

From Kurt Cobain to, uh,Sebastian Bach,Soundscan时代的直接获奖者此时众所周知,但谁lost?谁干的不是从更大的图表准确度立即受益?即使在1991年5月的第一周中,也有些令人眼花缭乱的摔倒令人垂涎欲滴。“我所记得的唯一名字是Lisa Fischer,我记得它的原因是在漫长的,流畅的日子结束时,我的最后一个责任是收到她的经理的电话,”Mayfield说。“丽莎菲舍尔。她是一个很棒的背景歌手,为路德万段唱歌,她唱着滚动的石头。她真的很有才华,她有一个吸引人的专辑。我不记得她的特定下降是什么,但我接到了这个家伙的电话,就像'你还没准备好',“你伤害了我的艺术家。”

这chart dip for Fischer’s debut albumSo Intensewas 30 spots, from her不。146 debut不。176.the following week post-SoundScan. But for a certain breed of rock snob, the chart dip experienced by Sting’s January ’91 solo albumSoul Cages—from不。22不。56在那个同一个跨度 - 更有趣,因为前前夫为80年代新的波浪巨头警方已经渗出了某种经典岩石的浮夸。“有一系列音乐,行业只是假设是一个击中,并在图表上露出途径,”Molanphy说,注意到1991年滚石现场专辑Flashpoint至ok a tumble as well. “You just assume week to week that Sting album’s just得到了销售。好吧,他是,但不再是。我回到我的电影隐喻:专辑开放大,然后脱落,除非他们很幸运,足以生成五个单打。你想,'好吧,它的刺痛。他只是继续销售夏天。“没有。斯廷特将有大约四个星期,然后那张专辑会挣脱。”

Let the record show that Sting’s “All This Time” rocks a respectable 35 percent as hard as Loverboy’s “Turn Me Loose,” but the point stands: SoundScan took a wrecking ball to some long-held industry assumptions. “It wasn’t like pure corruption,” Molanphy says, “so much as mass delusion.”

没有早期 - 90年代的行业妄想比说唱和国家没有作为流行音乐的想法更具危害。说Soundscan是不太有权madeGarth Brooks:他的第二张专辑,1990年代No Fences,已经是前20名击中,但它确实跳起来不。16不。4转换周的一周。但是说他不得分是安全的。1首次亮相ropin'风后来在'91-1中单独踢掉一串nine no. 1 albums- 如果图表更好地反映了他已经已经遇到的花花公子。

“一旦你意识到Garth Brooks比Mariah Carey和Pearl Jam更好,始终每年都会畅销,因此您可以相应地推广他,”Molanphy说。“Garth Brooks有吗?a Central Park concert1997年没有SoundScan?也许,也许不是。“

Country music as a whole, in fact, got an immediate, startling boost. “It had an effect throughout the entire industry,” says布莱恩曼斯菲尔德那a longtime country journalist and historian. “If you go back and you look atthat first chartin 1991, I think there were 34 country albums on that chart that week. There had been 20 the week before. There were nine in the top 50; there had been three the week before.”

的确,汉克威廉姆斯Jr.跳了37个地方,Reba Mcentire 20和Dolly Parton 29;在前50前,贾德斯跳了36个地方,Travis Tritt跳了82和德怀特yoakam跳了85那from no. 181 to no. 96. One further salient factor here is that some country artists themselves didn’t want to appear on aBillboard1991年仍然被命名为顶级流行专辑的图表。Billboard兽医梅菲尔德,它发生了,最近客人莫朗菲的宝贵人石板podcast流行歌曲那where he discussed the pop-based reticence of country superstar Randy Travis: “He didn’t want his albums being reported to Top Pop Albums,” Molanphy says, “because he thought it would dilute his audience and make people think he wasn’t credible country anymore.”

Billboard, 实际上,很快重命名了Billboard 200的专辑图表只是为了让“POP”脱离名称。同时,纳什维尔机器是由德国的聚光灯声音乐趣所致,即使没有人特别惊讶,也很高兴。“纳什维尔和乡村音乐产业有一个长期的洞穴复杂,在那里他们觉得其他人应该比他们更认真地将它们更加认真地,”曼德菲尔德说。“他们觉得他们在奖项表演中得到了奖项时间。每当他们在电视上唱歌时,人们会粘在他们身后的干草捆。纳什维尔总是觉得如果真正的数字是已知的,人们就会欣赏他们在做多少。所以我不知道这是如此令人惊讶,因为它是验证。“

Quadruple that disrespect and you have the situation facing rap music in the early ’90s. SoundScan quickly facilitated no. 1 albums for the likes of Ice Cube and N.W.A., and1992年从立方体到克里斯克罗斯的每个人都向克里斯 - 很多人顽皮地顽皮到柏树到贝斯蒂男孩到黑羊破裂了一年中的最畅销100张专辑。RAP的Soundscan Leap并不像乡村音乐在短期内那样的俗气,但由一个会计有43号。1 2000年的RAP专辑,和185 more从那以后,计算J. COLE的NO。1本月首次亮相这Off-Season

但是一个中央公园大小的加冠枢纽被躲起来的臀部跳跃而不是它的跳跃。对于Danyel Smith - 谁是谁每周SF.’s music editor when SoundScan hit, joinedBillboardas rhythm and blues editor in 1993, and went on to become editor in chief of both氛围然后,Billboarditself—the genre’s true dominance wasn’t acknowledged until the rise, and fall, of Biggie and Tupac in the back half of the ’90s. (Smith currently hosts the188金宝博备用podcast黑人女孩歌簿。)

“I’ll just be honest with you,” she says. “Nobody wanted—let me not exaggerate, let me be smart, calm, and intellectual. It was a quiet resistance to the facts, I believe. Not just from the older rock and country people, from older and more conservative Black people. You got to remember, this was whenCalvin Butts用轮卷机器滚动RAP CDS。这是什么时候Tipper Gore不想要说唱。这是C. Delores Tucker。“

在'90年代的RAP音乐中写下RAP音乐 - 在90年代的杂志封面上放入讲台 - 本身就是一个政治行为。“当时我不认为我现在以这种方式想到它,但它是很多宣传新闻,”史密斯说。“因为我总是觉得,”我必须向你证明事实是事实。“我们很多人都有这种感觉。”

在不可否认的图表年龄之前,从eminem,drake,jay-z和lil wayne的主导地位,说唱需要所有可能得到的倡导者,即使是Billboard图表更好地反映了流派的普及。“对这些事实有一个安静的抵抗力,”史密斯说。“如果你要爆发出版物,任何那个时间的出版物:BillboardCMJ旋转滚石,即使是英国人。你说,'让我们打破他们的音乐覆盖并比较它 - 他们是根据实际流行的东西分配的吗?怎么泛泛?它永远不会公平。“

电视遭受更大的差距。“这我们uld never be fair with regard to who was booking the late-night shows,” Smith continues. “You could have the smallest and most random indie-rock band. I have so many girlfriends that were publicists for rappers in those days. I remember even being in their offices—this isn’t even hearsay, this is me in the office with them. And they’re literally begging the booker, like我们是四倍铂金。我们不是。1在射程Airplay中连续12周。“而Lopper仍然不会得到演出。“那将是一个小乐队,甚至在热的100下冒泡,”史密斯继续。“所以这很糟糕。”

在SoundScan转换时,内Billboard那Mayfield remembers getting a sense of that resistance. “After I moved over to the charts department, at the end of each year I’d get called by newspaper columnists who covered pop music,” he says. “您未来一年有哪些预测?我最厌倦的问题是'是说唱最终会不那么受欢迎吗?“

不可以。说唱音乐终于不会不那么受欢迎。Billboardhas made further colossal chart adjustments in the 21st century: The Hot 100 first added digital salesin 2005那和SoundScan’s incorporation of streaming numbers started way back in 2007 via the addition of“来自Yahoo和Aol的每周数据,”adding major streaming services从2012年开始并用一个滋养convolutedbut more or less accepted album-equivalent-streams format ever since. It’s confusing, but it works.

经过which I mean itworkswell enough那by the way, notworks perfectly。就像它是一个伸展前的Soundscan时代,完全欺诈的延伸,它是将现代系统视为完全万无一失的愚蠢。不是每家商店起初都有条形码扫描仪;不是每个商店都可以信任一个。“当Soundscan获得其每周数据集时,如果他们注意到在汇总的一家商店,无论何处,有一个艺术家或一张专辑的销售数量会有一个可疑的销售 - 这就是你可以基本上怀疑在这个地方关闭后,有人支付有人拿一张CD并去,哔哔,嘟嘟声,哔哔哔哔哔哔一遍又一遍 - 他们会把它从池中扔出来,“莫兰·佛罗州。

You can’t completely eliminate human corruption, or the desire to game the charts. More recent schemes revolve around the industry scourge known as bundling, tying album sales to concert tickets or other merch, whichBillboardhas takengreat pains to curtail。“这不是任何手段的完美方法,”Molanphy说。“这只是我从未听过狡辩,我仔细使用这个词,关于音量比你看到的数据更具引人注目。这就像,'好吧,是的。这并不完美。是的,它可能缺少零售经济的更大块。是的,是的,是的。“但耶稣基督,看看这些模式。我们从来不知道这一切。显然明显。这太好了。“

随着这种准确性升起,事实终于是事实。尼尔森官方宣称hip-hop the most popular genre in 2018, but Smith still sees room for improvement: “Where’s that reflecting in festival bookings, folks? You can look at any week of this past year, this crazy pandemic year. It’s so much rap. If you look at the广告牌音乐奖提名者现在,它基本上是说唱和泰勒。“(同时,在5月,Billboardofficially named Drake its十年的艺术家2010年代。)

Molanphy,我的个人最喜欢的图表专家,仍然可以考虑Soundscan转换如何比较对“慢动作车祸”效果流的影响。Billboardcharts in the past 10 years. (“I’m making that sound more negative than I want it to.”) On a long enough timeline, streaming may prove the more cataclysmic event, in part thanks to the schemes labels have adopted to juice their streaming numbers, all legal but just a little …。Deluxe editions! Thirty-song albums!Lil NAS X风格的滑稽动作沸腾到不断重新释放同一个歌!但是,1991年5月25日几乎没有问题,标志着一个最重要的过夜改变Billboard图表 - 因此,通过延伸到音乐行业的音乐历史。你可以在伤害Soundscan锻炼中度过一生狂欢:可以说是莫朗菲以谋生为生。我最喜欢的个人理论是后圣诞节图表凹凸

“Here’s what happens during the holidays,” he explains. “Parents go out and buy gifts for their kids. They buy something cute. The kid gets it, is like, ‘Fuck that, I want the record by this metal band that makes my parents’ toes curl.’ Or, ‘I want this record with the naked baby chasing a dollar bill on the cover,’ or ‘I want the album with this血液浸透的说唱歌手在封面上。“那么圣诞节后的一周,突然你得到了专辑的现象,孩子们实际上想要自己打顶部图表。”

因此,如果您恰好在1991年12月26日在1991年12月26日交换了Skid Row CD的陈诗牌CD,只知道您并不孤单,并祝贺在曲线之前。

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