Recording Industry Group Adapts to Changing Technologies

Associations often struggle with change, but the Recording Industry Association of America—which recently updated the way it measures music popularity—is breaking that mold.

The music industry’s historic Gold and Platinum Program is getting a refresh. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) announced last week that it will begin integrating digital streams into the awards program, which recognizes achievement in the marketplace—just the fifth change to the program in the last 50 years.

On-demand audio and video song streams will be counted toward the 500,000 (gold), 1 million (platinum), and 2 million (multi-platinum) thresholds required for the program’s “Combined” Digital Single Award certification. YouTube, Spotify, Xbox Music, and Rdio are among the popular streaming services that will be included in the program.

“Including music streaming in Gold and Platinum awards marks the continued evolution of the industry’s premier program for recognizing artistic achievement, and it reflects the wide spectrum of ways consumers enjoy music from their favorite bands,” Cary Sherman, chairman and CEO of RIAA, said in a statement. “The music business, along with its incredible array of digital service partners, is offering fans more access to music than ever before. We’re thrilled that our awards will now more fully recognize artists’ commercial success today.”

RIAA has added several new categories to the program in order to adapt to changing technologies in the music industry. In 2004, the Digital Sales Award was established to recognize “significant sales in emerging digital music formats,” and in 2006, the Master Ringtone Award was introduced to recognize “the growing popularity of enjoying music through cellphones.”

“The program’s history has long been one that has taken into account technological advancements,” said Liz Kennedy, RIAA’s director of communications, who heads the Gold and Platinum Program. “The program first awarded LP recordings but expanded to a number of formats over time to include cassette tapes, CDs, digital tracks, digital albums, ringtones, and now streams.”

The program has to adapt to stay relevant within the industry, Kennedy said.

“How fans enjoy music is changing, and the music business is changing as labels and artists partner with an impressive array of new technology services,” she said. “The Gold and Platinum Program should similarly keep pace.”

How has your organization adapted to changes in your industry? Share your story in the comments.


Rob Stott

By Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. MORE

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