The RIAA announced towards the end of last week that streaming services (i.e., Spotify, Rdio, Pandora) would begin to count towards the certification of gold and platinum records. The topic of the switch has been growing over the past few days among music industry individuals and fans alike, so we thought it’d be great to have Jesse Cannon (Cannon Found Soundation Recording Studios) do a special Industry feature today on the switch. If you want any more education on the switch or just more commentary on it, make sure to read all up on it below!
Getting a gold or platinum record has long been the way we recognize a tangible achievement in the music business. It’s reserved for only about 20-50 artists in a given year, since selling 500,000 (gold record) or 1,000,000 records isn’t easy to do these days (keep in mind in 2012, The Black Keys were the only band in the “rock” category to score a platinum record). Especially when you can be the number one selling record in a week with a measly 62,000 records. The fact is, in the last few years there have been far less gold and platinum records handed out, especially in comparison to the 90’s and early-00s when they were pretty much party favors for getting on DIAL MTV or TRL. This, celebrated age of success in the music business got so ridiculous that the RIAA had to step up their game and make a Diamond rating for those who crossed the 10,000,000 sales mark and just look at this chart if you want to see how rare those have gotten. Back then, band’s were “going diamond” about as often as a record goes platinum these days and diamond records are now as rare as finding a diamond in an Indiana Jones movie (oh wait, isn’t that the premise of all of them?).
Because of this slowing down of sales compared to consumption from streams, the RIAA has apparently gotten bored and realized they serve little purpose aside from hunting down teenagers who do illegal downloads and giving away these sales-number-party-favors and decided to change up their certification methods. In an announcement that has shocked just about everyone, they have announced that they will now include streams in their certification. This means YouTube, Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody, Slacker and MTV.com streams will all count towards record sales. But how much do they count? For every 100 sales it will count as the equivalent to one download/sale.
The first alarm this sounds throughout the Internet is a concern about how much this will degrade the system? The most common complaint you hear about counting streams in sales figures is it allows those who make “meme-music” to have huge sales as opposed to artists making more “serious” music (see “Harlem Shake” topping the charts for weeks on end). With this new system Rebecca Black “Friday” would be a gold record on streams alone, without any other sales or streaming factor figured in. Tay Zonday’s “Chocolate Rain” is getting pretty close to Platinum using the same factor.