Sales trackers to provide services to Dutch co

SoundScan, the company best known for tracking sales of recorded music product through point-of-sale terminals, is expected to announce today it has created a joint venture with Netherlands-based publisher VNU Marketing to provide research and sales information based on the music and homevid industries.

The new venture, to be dubbed Entertainment Marketing Information Services, will be 60% owned by VNU, and gives the publisher an entree into the music and video businesses.

The Hartsdale, N.Y.-based SoundScan, launched in 1991 and run by Mike Shalett and Mike Fine, also recently bowed BookScan to track bestselling tomes — which VNU will also tap.

VNU’s information gathering arm is partnered with Arbitron in Scarborough Research, an outfit that tracks consumer spending habits; and is linked with Broadcast Data Systems, which tracks radio airplay.

VNU also publishes an array of consumer magazines and textbooks for education, and is the parent of BPI Communications, owner of music industry trade paper Billboard, which is the leading user of SoundScan-derived data.

SoundScan will use the info culled by other VNU arms to boost its operation.

No changes are expected at SoundScan, which boasts more than 14,000 tracking outlets that cover north of 90% of the nation’s music sales.

When determining weekly album sales, SoundScan extrapolates the remaining percentage to reach the final tallies that are provided to record companies and other interested entities.

SoundScan has come under fire from execs in the Latin record industry, who say it is significantly under-representing the number of albums sold in the Latin music marketplace, as many stores trading in the genre — most of which are mom and pop operations — do not subscribe to the service.

Execs suggest SoundScan’s extrapolations are as much as 60% too low, an assertion that Shalett and Fine have frequently denied.

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