Mos Def'sT-Shirt Record Sales Aren't Counted by Nielsen SoundScan
Mos Def's record sales for The Ecstatic are not record sales, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Here's the deal: fans can purchase a t-shirt depicting the album cover for Mos Def's new album, The Ecstatic, and each shirt comes with a download code for a free copy of the album itself.
This is where it gets complicated, though: while you've just bought the shirt and downloaded the album, which are essentially packaged together, Nielsen SoundScan is not counting it as an album sale.
Each shirt features an album cover on the front and a track list with a special download code on the back. If you buy the shirt, you get the album for free.
Basically, Nielsen SoundScan is still thinking in terms of sales of records as standalone entities, which I can understand, since their only experience in the market is cash-for-8-track.tape/CD/iTunes download. However, the industry is changing right in front of Neilsen's eyes, and they don't quite seem to notice: Records are basically free now, whether labels wish it or not. That Mos Def has found a way to monetize his new album anyway should make Nielsen drop what it's doing and pay closer attention, but that's apparently not the case.
"Nielsen Soundscan knows nothing about this and without knowing more, we have no intention of counting units triggered by the sale of a t-shirt," Soundscan representative Anna Solters told Digital Music News on Friday.