SoundScan is a tracking system operated by the ACNielsen, that tracks sales of music and music video products throughout the United States and Canada. Any music product that carries a barcode or ISRC code is eligible to be tracked by SoundScan. According to their website, “Sales data from point-of-sale cash registers is collected weekly from over 14,000 retail, mass merchant and non-traditional (on-line stores, venues, etc.) outlets. Weekly data is compiled and made available every Wednesday. Nielsen SoundScan is the sales source for the Billboard music charts.”
In order to have a chance at making the Billboard music charts, any release must be registered with SoundScan using UPC number (for the whole album) and ISRC codes (for the individual tracks). Without registration, the sales figures will not be counted, and will remain invisible to the system.
At the time of this article's publication, SoundScan registration is still free of charge.
In order to register with SoundScan, you must first obtain your ISRC and UPC Codes here. Once you have purchased your codes, you can use them on the SoundScan system to register your album here and tracks here.