The Recording Industry Association of America just announced it will now count streams when determining if a record qualifies for a gold or platinum certification.
The RIAA has been bestowing albums with gold and platinum labels since 1958. Up until now, only album sales counted toward a gold or platinum certification, despite the recent emergence and proliferation of streaming services. An artist needs to sell 500,000 copies of a single record for it to reach a gold benchmark and 1 million to go platinum. But this doesn't mean a single stream will now carry the same weight as an album sale — instead, the RIAA says 1,500 song or video streams will be equivalent to ten track sales or one album sale.
Hey, we just remembered streaming!
"We know that music listening – for both albums and songs – is skyrocketing, yet that trend has not been reflected in our album certifications," Cary Sherman, CEO of the RIAA, said in today's announcement. Despite their struggles with profitability, streaming services account for millions of listeners, many of whom likely never purchase full albums. RIAA's move is a necessary one that finally recognizes the influence of streaming on the music industry. Plus, the RIAA has been stuck playing catch-up with Billboard, which has been counting streams on its own charts since the end of 2014.
The RIAA's new methodology was implemented today, which means several albums earned a gold, platinum, or double-platinum certification after the announcement, including Big Sean's Dark Sky Paradise, Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly, and The Weeknd's Beauty Behind the Madness.