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Soundscan founder checking out

Shalett becomes chairman emeritus, Sisco named prez

NEW YORK — Mike Shalett, co-founder of the music sales-data firm Nielsen SoundScan, has retired from his posts as chief executive of parent company Nielsen Retail Entertainment Information and president of both Nielsen SoundScan and radio-data firm Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems.

Shalett, who has run SoundScan — along with its sister companies, VideoScan and BookScan — since their inception more than a decade ago, will take on a background role as chairman emeritus.

Meanwhile, Nielsen REI exec Rob Sisco has been upped to president of Nielsen Music and operating chief of Nielsen REI. Sisco will handle all day-to-day operations for SoundScan and BDS, effectively replacing Shalett at the top.

Shalett, along with co-founder Mike Fine, revolutionized the way record sales were counted in 1991 by instituting an electronic system to count each album as it was scanned at a retail register. Before then, sales were reported anecdotally (and often inaccurately) by store managers nationwide.

The new numbers changed the musical landscape and elevated the importance of some genres — particularly country and hip-hop. But the system has faced criticism in recent years, with claims of tampering by retailers, some of whom are said to have inflated sales by scanning a CD several times.

Shalett and Fine sold SoundScan to Dutch publishing concern VNU in 1998.