Recording Industry Group Adds On-Demand Streams to Album Awards Formula

To account for the increased use of streaming services, the Recording Industry Association of America updated its Album Certification formula to include on-demand audio and video song streams.

On-demand audio and video streams will now be taken into account when determining whether an album qualifies for gold or platinum record status, the Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA) announced Monday. Consideration of on-demand streams from services like Apple Music, Spotify, and Tidal in RIAA’s Album Award formula comes after the group modernized its Gold and Platinum Awards in 2013 by counting on-demand streams as sales for its Digital Single Award certification.

“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 RIAA Chairman and CEO Cary Sherman. “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,” he said.

Under the new formula, 1,500 on-demand audio and/or video song streams will equal 10 track sales, which is the equivalent of one album sale. Once the new formula was implemented on February 1, 17 albums received updated certifications, including Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” which received a 32X Multi-Platinum Award.

“Finding the right balance was very important to us,” RIAA Gold & Platinum Program Communication Director Liz Kennedy Holman told Associations Now. In an analysis of album sales, Holman said RIAA discovered that 10 years ago 90 percent of the Top 200 albums were eligible for Album Certification, but today, only about 30 percent of Top 200 albums were eligible, despite the fact that “music consumption and listening are way up.”

Using the new formula, RIAA expects between 40 to 45 percent of Top 200 albums will be eligible for Album Certification. “We see a balance there,” Holman said. “The business will continue to change, and Gold & Platinum Awards will too. Updating the Album Award today is the next important step in our ongoing efforts to recognize success in a new music business.”

Other industry groups—including the Music Business Association—applauded RIAA’s decision. “This move affirms the importance of streaming in today’s music business and allows for a more modern and complete sales measurement system for this iconic program,” President James Donio said in a statement. “It is good to see the industry adapting to today’s sales realities, and we are glad to see artists who have embraced new formats receive the recognition they deserve.”


Katie Rucke

By Katie Rucke

Katie Rucke is former Associate Editor for Associations Now. MORE

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