The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has raised controversy once more as serious discrepancies emerge between its own announced sales figures and those released by official US chart hit enumerator, Nielson Soundscan.

As the RIAA's own first-quarter 2004 figures report a 7 per cent decline in music sales, the Soundscan figures reveal a 10 per cent increase in unit sales. Soundscan uses the barcodes on CDs to register sales at record stores

A report on Kensei News claims the RIAA – which is currently engaged in vigorous prosecutions of individual music file sharers – is "commonly reporting retail shipment units when quoting losses, not units sold to consumers".

The report says that as the labels look to the units they ship to retailers, while the official chart barcode accounting system relates to consumer sales "short term discrepancies" may emerge.

The report also explains that US music retailers today buy stock in smaller quantities in order to limit the inventory they have on-hand, to protect themselves against slow sales.