It may not be reflected on the Billboard charts, but Jay-Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail is now guaranteed to be certified platinum by the RIAA soon after its early release on July 4th. The industry group has decided to alter its longstanding Gold and Platinum (G&P) Program in response to Samsung's unique promotion; the company purchased one million "copies" of Jay-Z's latest album to give away to its customers. "It is a novel and creative marketing move and it has rightly stimulated a healthy conversation about the sale’s meaning and implications for the modern music business," writes Liz Kennedy, director of the RIAA's G&P certification program.
The music business is changing
Prior to today, one G&P requirement was that an album needed to be available for 30 days before it would become eligible for certification. As you'd expect, that rule applies to CDs and vinyl — the RIAA says it helps account for returns of physical media — but it also bizarrely included digital album sales before today's change. Citing the vastly different landscape of today's music business compared to 2004 (when the digital rules were implemented), Kennedy readily admits that the policy "no longer makes sense." She goes on, saying, "The reality is that how fans consume music is changing, the music business is changing as labels and artists partner with a breathtaking array of new technology services, and the industry’s premier award recognizing artists’ commercial achievement should similarly keep pace." (The 30-day timeframe will still be applied to physical sales.)
What that means for Magna Carta Holy Grail is that even as consumers are still feverishly downloading the album, Hov can rest easy knowing that he's all but guaranteed platinum status. Yet again.