RIAA changes Gold and Platinum album certification rules to include streaming totals

Gold and Platinum record wall
photo: Prayitno via Flickr

For nearly 60 years, the Recording Industry Association of America, or RIAA, has celebrated musicians’ sales successes by awarding artists with Gold and Platinum plaques symbolizing 500,000 and one million sales, respectively. But with the landscape of music consumption rapidly shifting to online streaming through services like Spotify and Amazon’s Prime Music, as well as the goliath that is YouTube, RIAA has finally updated their methodology, announcing that for the first time ever, digital streaming will count toward Gold and Platinum album certifications. (The RIAA began counting digital streaming toward their Digital Single Award in May 2013.) Among the artists benefiting from this change in the system include Halsey, Alt-J, Elle King and Vance Joy, all of whose most recent albums were certified Gold today.

“For nearly six decades, whether it’s vinyl, CDs, downloads or now streams, the Gold & Platinum Program has adapted to recognize the benchmarks of success in an evolving music marketplace,” said Cary Sherman, Chairman and CEO, RIAA, in a statement.  “We know that music listening—for both for albums and songs—is skyrocketing, yet that trend has not been reflected in our album certifications.  Modernizing our Album Award to include music streaming is the next logical step in the continued evolution of Gold & Platinum Awards, and doing so enables RIAA to fully reward the success of artists’ albums today.”

What this means is your favorite bands—assuming they’re not already all over the radio and TV—have a much better chance of hitting these previously unattainable numbers, all thanks to you keeping their new album on “repeat.” The way it works is 1,500 on-demand audio and/or video song streams will be the equivalent of 10 track sales, which in turn is equivalent to one album sale, in the RIAA’s eyes. Additionally, the RIAA has changed the formula for their Digital Single Award from 100 on-demand streams equaling one download to 150 on-demand streams equaling one download.

To break that down even further: My current favorite song is Basement’s “Lose Your Grip.” If I commit myself to playing this song and this song alone for 750 million times, Basement’s Promise Everything would go Gold. Granted, that would take 4,016 years nonstop—time to start chipping away…