Jerry’s Records in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photo Credit: Joshua Olsen
Despite pushback from organizations including the Vinyl Alliance, Luminate is moving full steam ahead with major changes to the way it reports indie vinyl sales.
Luminate’s intention to proceed with the pivots, about which we reported earlier in December, entered the media spotlight in a recent piece from Billboard. Besides providing chart data to the latter, Luminate (formerly P-MRC Data) is tied to the publication via Penske Media.
Beyond these multifaceted ownership specifics, Luminate previously communicated that it would cease extrapolating physical sales data (for the still-surging vinyl and, less significantly, CDs and cassettes) for indie retailers in the US and Canada.
Abandoning this longstanding practice of estimating overall commercial volume based upon a limited supply of sales figures, Luminate explained in more words that it would instead begin counting only the sales reported directly to it by indie businesses.
As initially mentioned, the likes of the Vinyl Record Manufacturing Association (VRMA) and the Vinyl Alliance quickly expressed their opposition – including because of the small number of record stores that feed sales stats to Luminate.
“With less than 5% of independent physical retailers currently reporting directly to Luminate, the data collected will be a grossly inaccurate representation of the sales of physical products,” the organizations spelled out in a to-the-point joint statement.
Notwithstanding this and other concerns, though, Luminate is poised to implement the changes in just over two weeks, when its 2024 calendar year kicks off, per Billboard.
In explaining the decision to stick to the plan amid the aforementioned opposition, Luminate drew attention to a purported “‘consensus that the current weighted modeling should be retired.’”
Meanwhile, per Billboard’s description, the data company has indicated that it boasted as of mid-November 93 percent coverage for “the total U.S. physical market” as well as data inputs from 95 percent “of U.S. independent retail stores that reach over 1,000 sales per week.”
Behind the 95 percent figure, which may appear positive at a glance, logic suggests that more than a few record stores fail to hit the implied average of 143 non-secondhand products moved each day of the week – meaning that the percentage, in keeping with the vinyl organizations’ remarks, could potentially be far lower for all indie retail businesses.
Longer term, one needn’t stretch the imagination to grasp how the development may impact chart data in favor of certain super-popular projects.
In any event, Luminate is reportedly working with retailers to streamline reporting, including via support “resources,” with indie-specific bestseller stats expected to be forwarded to participating stores weekly once the retooled system is up and running.