Shipment Database FAQ

What data is included here?

This database includes year-end shipment statistics for the recorded music industry in the United States going back to 1973. The key formats (CDs, cassettes, downloads etc.) are included, and both the number of units and dollar values are included as well.

How is this data compiled?

This data is compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America. It is our estimate of the size of the U.S. recorded music industry based on data collected directly from the major music companies (which create and/or distribute about 85% of the music sold in the U.S.), and estimates where possible for the remaining parts of the market.

What do you mean by "shipments?"

"Shipments" refers to recorded music products sold by the music companies net of returns (including digital products). This does not indicate the exact amount of product sold to final consumers, as changes in retailer inventory levels can affect shipments. For point-of-sale data, we refer you to Nielsen SoundScan (

What do you mean when you refer to value and units?

"Units" refers to the raw volume of products (which may be physical or digital) in a given category. "Value" refers to the total dollar amount of the products shipped at estimated retail price.

What does the RIAA's new enhanced shipment database subscription offer?

The RIAA has created an interactive database where users can view, compare, and export historical year-end U.S. shipment statistics, including expanded access to historical data going back to 1973. Users can create bar and pie charts, plus export charts and data to excel, PDF, and image formats. Demo the database here.

How much does a subscription cost?

$40.00 USD for one week and $100.00 USD for one year.

Will my subscription renew automatically?

No. You will only be billed once, and you must re-subscribe if you want to continue to have access to this database after the subscription period ends.

What if I work for a music label that is an RIAA member?

Member record labels receive complimentary access to the RIAA's enhanced shipment database. If you work for a member company, please contact us at for info on database access. If you are interested in becoming an RIAA member click here.

I'm a student working on an academic project, can I access this data?

Students working on academic projects can receive limited access to this data. Please contact us at, and include your name, what school and program you attend, and a brief description of your project. Students may also find helpful the "For Students Doing Reports" FAQ on the RIAA website here.

I'm a member of the media writing a story on RIAA shipment data, who should I contact?

For media inquiries, please contact Liz Kennedy in the RIAA communications department at

What recording industry data is available for free?

The RIAA provides access to two years' shipments data at no cost. The PDF is available for download here. Adobe Acrobat Reader is required for viewing; click here to download the reader.