Music Streams Now Count For Platinum and Gold Record Status

Voyager Golden Record
A gold record ready to be attached to a Voyager space probe, USA, circa 1977. Voyager 1 and its identical sister craft Voyager 2 were launched in 1977 to study the outer Solar System and eventually interstellar space. The record, entitled 'The Sounds Of Earth' contains a selection of recordings of life and culture on Earth. The cover contains instructions for any extraterrestrial being wishing to play the record. (Photo by NASA/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Photograph by NASA—Getty Images

The Recording Industry Association of America said Monday it will begin counting music streams when certifying whether a music album has achieved gold or platinum status.

The association’s former guidelines, which counted only album sales, have been in place since the start of the program in 1958. The decision to adopt new rules reflects a recognition on the part of the industry about changing modes of music consumption.

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“We know that music listening—for both for albums and songs—is skyrocketing, yet that trend has not been reflected in our album certifications,” said Cary Sherman, the association’s chairman and CEO. “Modernizing our Album Award to include music streaming is the next logical step.”

The adjustment comes nearly six decades after the association awarded the first gold record (it was for Perry Como’s single “Catch a Falling Star”), and more than two years after rival Billboard began including music streams into its equations, as the Verge notes.

To qualify as gold, an artist’s record must sell 500,000 copies; to go platinum a record must sell 1 million copies. The new scheme adopts new arithmetic too. Music streams count less than regular album sales: 1,500 audio or video streams will count as 10 track sales or one album sale.

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A few of the most popular music streaming sites include Pandora (P), Google-owned (GOOG) YouTube, and Spotify.

With the new rules for the precious metals club, the RIAA announced new inductees, including Alt-J’s An Awesome Wave, Big Sean’s Dark Sky Paradise, Coldplay’s Ghost Stories, Elle King’s Love Stuff, Halsey’s Badlands, and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, among others.

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