STREAMING NOW COUNTS FOR ALBUM AWARDS

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) announced a new Album Award methodology for its Gold & Platinum Program, the industry’s premier award for recognizing artistic achievement in the music marketplace.

The RIAA will include on-demand audio and video streams and a track sale equivalent in Gold & Platinum (G&P’s) Album Award.  The modernization of the program’s album rule follows a similar update made to digital single certifications in 2013, when the RIAA first added on-demand streams to its Digital Single Award.  Collectively, this now means that the program’s iconic benchmarks of 500,000 (Gold), 1,000,000 (Platinum) and 2,000,000 plus (multi-Platinum) – will count both sales and streams for single and album certifications.

The RIAA will now be accepting plays from video platforms like YouTube, as well as on-demand sites such as Spotify and the like. The list of services included in this new certification system is far too long to list, but it includes popular options such as Beatport, Amazon Prime Music, Deezer, and so on. It does not include radio services like Pandora and iHeartRadio because platforms do not allow people to choose whatever song they want whenever they want.

The list also includes some odd sites and apps, such as Hulu, Flipagram, as well as well-visited stores like Target, Kmart, and Walmart. These might not be the first places where one would go to buy or play music, but songs and albums have a place on all of these platforms, so they count towards the total consumption of an artist’s music.

“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.  “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.”

After a comprehensive analysis of a variety of factors – 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 the enormous growth of streaming consumption in the two plus years since that ratio was set. Just as RIAA announced when setting the initial formula in 2013, our analysis and the determination of a formula is based on comparative consumption patterns, not marketplace value.

The RIAA created its Gold & Platinum Awards Program in 1958 to honor artists and create a standard to measure the commercial success of a sound recording.  The program trademarked the Gold record and formalized the industry practice of presenting awards to artists for music sales achievements.  Almost 60 years since its inception, the iconic Gold & Platinum brand is the preeminent form of recognition for success in the music marketplace.

Music dominates the conversation on popular social media platforms, with artists being the most followed people across these channels, and Gold & Platinum recognition is often among the most celebrated news in an artist’s social media feed.  The RIAA utilizes a myriad of social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flipagram, and a YouTube page – to market and publicize artist award achievements.  The RIAA also recently unveiled a new RIAA.com and Gold & Platinum database where fans can more easily search and share the award recognition.

First awarded to LP recordings but expanded to a number of formats over time to include cassette tapes, CDs, digital tracks, digital albums, ringtones, and streams, nearly 30,000 certifications have been awarded by the RIAA during the last 58 years.

All certifications are calculated by the firm Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman, which has audited title sales for the RIAA for more than 30 years.  Complete lists of all album, single, and other awards can be accessed at http://www.riaa.com/gold-platinum/.