Billboard Parent Valence Acquires Soundscan from Nielsen

Billboard, a well-known music industry publication, is set to acquire Soundscan, Nielsen’s music data and analytics subdivision. The acquisition is a move to strengthen Billboard’s position in the industry and maintain its hold on the music charts. Soundscan has been used by Billboard to create their music charts for years, but now with the acquisition, the two brands will be under the same roof.

Soundscan was founded in 1991 by Mike Fine and Mike Shalett as a tracking and analytics system that determined the popularity of songs and records based on digital sales, digital impressions, physical sales, and other benchmarks. The system was originally rooted in point-of-sale CD scans, which is where it got its name from. The system has since evolved to include other measurements of music popularity.

Billboard has been criticized for its lock on chart rankings, and the acquisition of Soundscan will only add fuel to that fire. Last year, Rolling Stone partnered with BuzzAngle Music, an analytics firm, and unveiled its own music charts. Both Billboard and Rolling Stone seem to be placing an emphasis on credibility and proprietary data, but some critics claim that each outlet’s unilateral control of music-sales data and charts could result in a lack of objectivity. The companies may cater to certain artists and/or record labels, while introducing counting biases of their own.

Sources close to the deal claim that it will be finalized later this year, and Valence, Billboard’s parent company, will reportedly pay eight figures for Soundscan. Meanwhile, Nielsen is slowing selling off its many assets in an effort to recoup losses. Despite recent years’ market upturn, Nielsen’s stock price has dramatically decreased. One share of the company cost more than $50 in 2016, but today, the price-per-share is just over $20.

Billboard was founded in 1894 as a trade magazine but began publishing entertainment news and reviews shortly after the turn of the century. The rise of the radio prompted the magazine to begin focusing on music, and in 1955, their charts became the industry standard measurement of success and reach. However, recent technological breakthroughs have changed the methods of collecting music data, offering a serious opportunity for upstarts.

Rolling Stone’s aforementioned charts debuted in July. Billboard’s Soundscan investment signals a willingness to maintain a favorable position in the industry, and it seems that competition between Rolling Stone and Billboard will ramp up in the coming months and years. The music industry is constantly evolving, and it will be interesting to see how Billboard’s acquisition of Soundscan will impact the industry moving forward.

This acquisition will allow Billboard to have more control over the data that is used to create its charts, which will help it maintain its position as the industry standard for measuring music success. However, the acquisition could also lead to questions about the objectivity of the charts, since Billboard will have even more control over the data. It will be important for Billboard to be transparent about its data collection methods and to ensure that the charts remain as objective as possible.

In addition to the acquisition, Valence is also planning to invest in other music-related companies. The company recently acquired the Hollywood Reporter, and it has also invested in the music festival producer, Insomniac. With these acquisitions, Valence is positioning itself as a major player in the music and entertainment industry.

As the music industry continues to evolve, it is likely that we will see more acquisitions and investments like this one. Companies will need to adapt to changing technologies and consumer behaviors in order to remain competitive. It will be interesting to see how Billboard, Rolling Stone, and other music industry publications respond to these changes and how they continue to measure music success in the years to come.