Monday, February 16, 2004

Fuzzy math
Below you'll find the latest on the Juno nomination controversy. Worth noting that this is not the first time the Junos have screwed up the nomination process (but the first time it's led to them admitting their "sales" awards are based on albums shipped, not albums sold).
In 1995, a similar "miscalculation" left 54.40 off the list for best alternative album. Shortly after the nominations were officially announced the error was detected and the band's Smilin' Buddha Cabaret added to the list, alongside albums from Eric's Trip, Our Lady Peace, King Cobb Steelie, Rose Chronicles, and Sloan.
Two years before that, the Junos were forced to take away a nomination from Mitsou after it was discovered her album, Heading West, did not meet the 80 per cent French requirement for Francophone album of the year.

Juno criteria under fire after Nickelback debacle: Nominees for album of the year determined by CDs shipped, not sold
Monday, February 16, 2004
Aaron Wherry National Post

In the wake of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences admitting that a "data entry error" compromised the Juno Award nominations for album of the year, one critic has assailed its nomination criteria as "outrageous" and inaccurate.

Last week, CARAS added Nickelback's The Long Road to the nominees for album of the year, admitting a data entry error had kept the band off the original list. As a result, this year's Junos will have six nominees, instead of the usual five, competing for album of the year. It also means one album will continue to hold a nomination it does not deserve (CARAS refuses to acknowledge which album that is).

Nominations in that category are based solely, CARAS had said, on record sales. Initial figures tallied by an independent firm showed the top five sellers during the eligibility period to be albums from Michael Buble, Celine Dion, Nelly Furtado, Sarah McLachlan and Sam Roberts.

Further investigation showed Nickelback's The Long Road had sold enough copies to qualify.

But CARAS later acknowledged that album of the year nominations are determined by the number of albums shipped by record labels to retailers -- not the number of albums sold to customers.

Shipped numbers often differ from those collected by Nielsen SoundScan, which tracks CD sales at point of purchase.

"That's outrageous. Nobody does it by albums shipped anymore. I can't believe that," said Billboard's Canadian bureau chief, Larry LeBlanc. "We've had Nielsen SoundScan in this country since 1997, which gives an accurate tallying of album sales because it's run through a system in the stores."

According to Nielsen SoundScan numbers quoted to the National Post by a music industry source, Nelly Furtado's Folklore has sold the fewest of all nominees for album of the year; in fact, it has sold fewer than several albums that were not nominated.

"There's no perfect mouse trap," a CARAS spokeswoman responded when asked about concerns over the Juno nomination process.

"It's unbelievable that they would base any kind of popularity on ship-out figures," LeBlanc added. "Ship-out figures can be manipulated, they can be switched around to look better for almost anything, and ship-out doesn't really show anything but what went out of the branch. They are not a true indicator of actual sales. And one of the reasons why the industry demanded something like SoundScan was the inaccuracy of ship-out figures and the cloudy view of what a ship-out figure can show. Ship-out figures are not accurate. It's as simple as that."

"The only one we use is scanned data," said Humphrey Kadaner, president of HMV in North America. "To me, that's the true measure."

The Juno Awards will be presented April 4 in Edmonton.

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