Since 1958, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has awarded platinum and gold certifications based on the quantity of albums sold by an artist. One million sold copies meant a record was platinum; half a million meant gold. Today, the RIAA announced a change in that methodology. Now, it will count on-demand audio and video streaming, along with the traditional album sales, in determining whether a record is platinum or gold.
One stream doesn’t equal one sale, however. Instead, 1,500 on-demand audio or video streams will amount to one album sale. (On-demand streaming refers to the ability to choose what song you’re listening to—services like Spotify and Apple Music, not internet radio sites like Pandora.) The RIAA’s announcement didn’t mention how these 1,500 streams will be tallied up—for example, whether one stream of a 17-song album will count the same as 17 streams of a single taken from the album.
Effective immediately, the RIAA will include on-demand audio and video streams and a track sale equivalent in determining which releases get the coveted album awards, a change that follows a similar tweak in 2013 to include on-demand streams for its Digital Single Award.
“After a comprehensive analysis of a variety of factors,” writes the organization in a statement, “including streaming and download consumption patterns and historical impact on the program – and also consultation with a myriad of industry colleagues the RIAA set the new Album Award formula of 1,500 on-demand audio and/or video song streams = 10 track sales = 1 album sale. Also effective today, RIAA’s Digital Single Award ratio will be updated from 100 on-demand streams = 1 download to 150 on-demand streams = 1 download to reflect streaming’s enormous growth in the two plus years since that ratio was set.”
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