Nonsense Or Needed? RIAA Adds Streams To Album Certifications

Published: Monday 1st Feb 2016 by Sam

The streaming revolution continues!

Fresh from the furore that arose when the RIAA certified Rihanna‘s free album ‘ANTI’ Platinum for sales of 1 million, the industry force has announced radical new plans that will only add to the heated debate.

Details below…

At the tail end of 2014, Billboard revealed that chart placements would now factor in streaming from on-demand services such as Spotify and VEVO.

Until today, the “SPS / sales plus streaming ” model essentially only impacted where a release would land on the weekly chart.

This morning, though, the RIAA took it a step further by confirming – effective immediately – that audio and video streams will count towards Gold & Platinum (G&P’s) Album Certifications. It’s a  move which follows a similar update to the singles certifications in 2013.

Put simply, this now means that the program’s iconic benchmarks – 500,000 (Gold), 1,000,000 (Platinum) and 2,000,000 plus (multi-Platinum) – will count both sales and streams for single and album certifications.

Speaking on the change, RIAA CEO Sherman, Chairman said:

“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.

We know that music listening – for both for albums and songs – is skyrocketing, yet that trend has not been reflected in our album certifications. 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.”

With the new rules, 17 albums have “earned” Gold or Platinum certifications. Included are:

* Big Sean “Dark Sky Paradise” (Def Jam Recordings) Platinum
* Coldplay “Ghost Stories” (Atlantic/Parlophone) Platinum
* Fifth Harmony “Reflection” (Epic) Gold,
* Kendrick Lamar “To Pimp a Butterfly” (TDE/Interscope) Platinum,
* Michael Jackson “Thriller” (Epic/Legacy) 32X Multi-Platinum,
* The Weeknd “Beauty Behind the Madness” (XO/Republic Records)


For the most part, this is absolute, unquestionable trash.

How a free stream of music one may not even like now counts towards a “certification” is a joke.

To put it into perspective, The Weeknd’s album has only sold 900k, yet – under the new rules – is “2x Platinum.” Bye Felicia and everyone involved with this.

The only, slight, upside to this episode is that it finally may equal the playing field for acts who aren’t getting the push (at radio and the like), but are getting the views.

Still, shocking stuff.

The industry is now giving out Platinum plaques like bus passes. A mess.


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  1. LB February 1, 2016

    Maybe now Nicki Minaj’s album will finally go platinum


    • Everyone’s A Critic February 1, 2016

      You know Nicki surpassed A LOT of levels. Like Rihanna she is a singles artist. And she’s a hip hop artist which isn’t a lucrative marketplace as hip hoppers don’t tend to buy music so really it’s just her fans. Nickis fan base is young. Young people stream! Do the math. Plus Nickis sales are still massive. So just stop!

      • Barb B**** February 1, 2016


      • Lil Kim thee ONLY QB February 1, 2016

        Finally, someone with sense of this site.

    • maurice February 1, 2016

      fking ridiculous.
      This whole streaming inclusion is disgusting.
      I miss the old days of just pure sales being counted to the charts.

      • Everyone’s A Critic February 1, 2016

        Is it the old days though!? That’s like saying TV ratings should be based purely on views during air time when people watch shows on demand, online and on catch up. It’s the same with music

      • DJ February 1, 2016

        Rap outsells country tho. Ask Drake, Em, J Cole, Maclemore, Waayne, Jayz, etc….. rap fans do buy albums and she had a pretty good 2014 for a female rappper.

  2. Onika Reloaded February 1, 2016

    Nicki’s impact

  3. HailBeysus February 1, 2016

    DEATH!!!!!!!! ??????????????????????

    • HailBeysus February 1, 2016

      I cannot this shiiiit is a hot mess.

  4. Onika Reloaded February 1, 2016

    Not Rosie’s tumblr fave nabbing a gold certification when it hasn’t even crossed the 300K mark

  5. Everyone’s A Critic February 1, 2016

    It’s Beeded. This is how we buy music now. Streaming subscriptions! The last album I actually purchased was Forest Hills Drive – J Cole. There’s no need to buy ONE album when we can pay to listen to an ENTIRE library of music. Streams are sales

    • Retrograde February 1, 2016

      Finally! Someone who makes sense

  6. xedos February 1, 2016

    Don’t see the problem.if people pay for a streaming subscription and they stream and album it’s the same thing

  7. Bey-Minaj February 1, 2016

    The industry knows album sales are dying and are simply trying to put a stop to this unfortunate trend. Looks like Nicki had the tea when she said her album was 3 times platinum, now yall just sip that tea she brewed.

    • Onika Reloaded February 1, 2016

      But there is no such thing as ww certifications but she was partially right

  8. LB February 1, 2016

    Anyway Samantha there is nothing wrong with this, you’re just an old dinosaur who is failing to catch up to the times.

    What’s the difference between listening to an album I’ve bought and an album I’ve streamed on Tidal? Same artist, same music..etc.

    What RIAA is trying to do is count what people are actually listening to, sales was the best metric for doing so back then, but now with the evolution of technology (something you’ve failed to catch up to judging by this comments script when other sites are using Disqus), they are trying to make the system more reflective of consumer tastes and trends.

    Why should the RIAA not evolve so as to stroke you and your fav’s ego?

    • Surprise..(DEC 2013) February 1, 2016

      But i’m sure u are only saying this because this happened with ur fave. LET’S BE REAL SWEETY..

      • LB February 1, 2016

        Sorry not all of us are as basic, dumb and simple as you. Some of us are actually interested in the “BUSINESS” side of the music industry.

        You can sashay away, vogue to some ratchet Giselle song and “Yasssssss” to some repetitive Giselle concert over there; grown people are talking about some grown stuff here that is obviously beyond your scope.

    • Surprise..(DEC 2013) February 1, 2016


  9. Onika Reloaded February 1, 2016

    When Nicki speaks you notherfuckers listen.
    She predicted this a few weeks ago but you dragged and shaded her now look

  10. Surprise..(DEC 2013) February 1, 2016

    This is really stupid..So basically anyone can easily get a platinum album. It kinds deminishes the importance and honour of getting a platinum album. Hence a certain

    • FrmLuz February 1, 2016

      To think how many are gonna go DIAMOND. SMH. That’s one certification that should be earned.

    • Mrwest February 2, 2016

      It’s stupid…..a stream has nothing to do with copies sold. I streamed meek mills latest effort, that don’t mean I liked it so why should he get an award??? Or any other artist, for a stream??? I need everybody 20 and under to go to sleep please cause I know the people that came out the 80s & 90s understand how stupid this sounds. F**king streams??? Smh

  11. RASHAD February 1, 2016

    Sam why are you guys still upset about Anti? Yes we all know it’s bogus but it is what is at this point lol!

    Far as streaming goes I actually agree! Times are forever changing. People purchase and listen to music differently than they did 4-5 years ago so if this will add to their sales then so be it. While artist like Adele REFUSE to let people stream her music other artist do. I’m sure in the next year or so a deal like Rihanans Anti will be counted on the billboard charts because artist/record labels are now pressured to ensure that their top billing artist are up on trend to sale and release music in ways that are up to par with modern day music buyers and listeners.

  12. Surprise..(DEC 2013) February 1, 2016


    • Weezy Tha Goat February 1, 2016

      It’s a shame tbh. Streaming is for used for those who struggles to get a certification.

      • Mrwest February 2, 2016

        Thank You

  13. Surprise..(DEC 2013) February 1, 2016

    . Diminishes

  14. .:: Centurion ::. February 1, 2016

    Not Big Sean’s Dark Sky Paradise and Shawn Mendes’ Handwritten being certified Platinum before Pinkprint with this new formula. The struggle is real.

  15. MsYonce February 1, 2016

    Nicki’s impacttt screaminggg! Ciara gonna go platinum nowww

    • Onika Reloaded February 1, 2016

      A mess..

  16. ? February 1, 2016

    This is nothing but a business decision, bare in mind that artists have to pay the RIAA before a certain certification is issued to them. If artists are not selling then how will the RIAA make their money

  17. Surprise..(DEC 2013) February 1, 2016

    This really shows why i respect Adele and Taylor Swift so much. They took their s*** of streaming sites and sold regardless…RESPECT. (P.S I DON’T GIVE A SHITT ABOUT BORELOR SWIFT, BUT I RESPECT THAT)

  18. Grande the Way February 1, 2016

    Lol by these new standards, My Everything will be diamond. It’s one of the most streamed albums on Spotify. Certifications are a joke now. Streaming an album makes sense, but why count individual track streams too?

    • Onika Reloaded February 1, 2016

      Exactly! So I can basically stream an intro or an interlude and it will count towards album sales?

    • What now February 1, 2016

      Yea I don’t like that either. They need to make sure to say how much of the album has to be streamed to decide to count it towards album sales.

  19. MsYonce February 1, 2016

    Well RIP to the music industry!!

  20. Barb B**** February 1, 2016

    Nickis impact though>>>>>

  21. HailBeysus February 1, 2016

    The streaming i can see. But VEVO??? Really??? Does anyone even pay for Vevo? Lmao! If they track what paid streaming customers are listening to and not just what everyone’s listening to okay. But counting free streams of album’s as sales is a joke. Everyone is going to have platinum albums in no time!

  22. What now February 1, 2016

    Let’s be extremely honest, the industry is dying. Ppl rather download music for free if your name isn’t Adele. Many artists do not sell their potential because of this illegal downloading and etc. While it’s a slap in the face for artists like Madonna, Mariah, and that generation, it truly is needed. The only major prob I have is what streams they allow to count towards the album sales. If your ish is listened to on YouTube, then it shouldn’t count for you because the artist can’t profit. However, if you stream on a paid for subscription to platforms like Tidal, Spotify, and etc., then I can see that being OK because the artist at least gets a profit. My point is, if the artist sees no profit, then no, but if they do, then that’s OK, not good.

    • HailBeysus February 1, 2016

      Exactly 100% on point! ?????? Everyone will be diamond in no time lmao!

  23. Memo February 1, 2016

    Finally Beyoncé might see 6x Platinum certification based on streamings… KIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII.

    • MsYonce February 1, 2016

      Beyonce already has a 5x platinum album she doesn’t need streaming to sell

      • King Mark111 /.\ February 1, 2016

        It took 13 years. Bye!

    • HailBeysus February 1, 2016

      Kiii whose ass did you crawm out of??? You need to worry about getting that 3rd world country you’re slumming in GDP up, instead of how Americans handle their music M’Kay!

  24. MsYonce February 1, 2016

    Don’t you have to pay for certifications??

    • ? February 1, 2016

      They do, I think about $350 per certification not sure will have to clarify

  25. AnnaliseKeatingsNewWig February 1, 2016

    It would make more sense if Billboard counted a certain number of streams as being a unit, rather than RIAA handing out certifications to every Tom, D*ck and Harry. Billboard are already taking into account YouTube views, and streams would make more sense. What RIAA is doing is bull, and are they slowly but surely losing their credibility. The next person that earns a Diamond plaque will not be as deserving as those that paved the way.

    • AnnaliseKeatingsNewWig February 1, 2016

      *They are

    • MsYonce February 1, 2016

      Thankkk youuu!!

  26. SLAYhanna February 1, 2016

    Why are people SEETHING?


    Regardless of whether or not you agree, we are now living in a new age and the music industry is changing. It may be difficult to digest for some especially for the older generations who were used to plain old physical singles and albums being bought for which determined a sale/certification, but we have to accept this one way or another.


    You can argue that digital age is for better or for worst but it’s not going to change anytime soon and I’m curious to know how the music industry will be by 2025. We’ve tone from cassettes to stereo to vinyl to compact disc to download to streaming and the cycle will continue…


    This is a good thing for some stanbases and all – it means your fave act can now achieve platinum or multiplatinum status or more.


    If certain artists don’t like it then do what Adele has done… Don’t put your album up for streaming or digital downloads and instead let people take their as$ to the stores and buy your album. This new plan by the RIAA doesn’t change that.

  27. mar February 1, 2016

    Most people don’t understand/follow record sales anyway. If a artist puts out a album they expect that its doing well because their in the public eye. They GP don’t comprehend charts or the riaa. So I can only see this further confusing people now that artist… Let’s say like Ciara might soon be due certifications. People who get and follow the industry know that she isn’t a seller, but to most of the general public they’ll hear “Gold” or “Platinum” thinking that that’s what she’s actually sold. The only way I see this rule working is if its use to fairly compensate artist. If there is no monetary gain what is the purpose, for Pr? Because that’s all it would be good for, popularity contest.

  28. The Industry God February 1, 2016

    This is extremely interesting. This gives many many independent acts that are not played on the radio but have decent online fans a chance to be acknowledged for their influence and work. On the other hand, this makes it waaaay easier for major names/artist to get that gold, platinum and even diamond certification especially if their work is trash. I believe, in my opinion, that the RIAA should keep this new plan for indie artist that and I think that major artist should have a higher tandard to reach. Think about it, look at how many videos and online records from major artist that have hundreds of millions of views and/or streams like talentless Salena Gomez (clearly not an artist, a basic and simplistic one dimensional actress that wants to do music because it’s fun). She would get multiple certifications because she’s extremely known, not because her music is astounding or on the level of living and deceased legends. It’s good for some and an easy way to get respect for their piece of shxt music.

  29. JanStan February 1, 2016

    Man u will really have to be struggling to NOT see platinum with this. The problem is that they need a system that keeps things comparable despite the change in technology. I mean artists will start competing with Thriller certification based on streams. Rihanna I guess is already 13X platinum from streams alone? Lol.Wow what a mess.

  30. King Gemini February 1, 2016

    I’m usually very open minded about everything, but this is absolute b******* get the fukk out of here. People are getting lazy in the industry and aren’t promoting enough building fan bases keeping fans interested having music shows on television more video countdowns more appearances performances radio stints etc etc like just because people are lazy and the label labels are being lazy find new ways of promotion. Because big artists who get the old school push still sell but his here is absolute bull sh*t honestly this is bull sh*t I will not stand for this this is ridiculous and in my mind I’m only counting sells. Unless your album is being streamed a billion times in total with the music like in a Nicki Minaj case this is rubbish

  31. HailBeysus February 1, 2016

    After analysis of streaming services and the climate of the consumption of digital music, the RIAA came up with the following formula.

    1,500 on-demand audio and/or video song streams = 10 track sales = 1 album sale.
    100 on-demand streams = 1 download to 150 on-demand streams = 1 download

  32. TRAVON AUSTIN February 1, 2016

    This basically makes the older generation, the best generation because the foundation of certifications were never changed and people actually bought the music. Did you know that singles were sold in stores on a CD? You didn’t have to buy the whole album to get a song. People say otherwise to make excuses for this new generation. The best artists and the best music came out before this delusional digital age. I would love streaming if certifications stayed traditional. I don’t understand why integrating sales/streaming makes sense at all. They could and should have created a new standalone streaming certification system. I don’t like this at all.

  33. Dev February 1, 2016

    Its funny., they change the categories for R&B artists at the grammy’s and now they want include streaming into sales.
    I think the music thing should remain as traditional as possible.

  34. King Gemini February 1, 2016

    I’m not clowning because I love Rihanna and this album is amazing but Sam make a post on how Anti only sold 460 pure sales on iTunes please !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Even with all the downloads and Streams a major artist should be selling more with a release like this which means the whole Navi didn’t buy it, and again I’m not clowning I don’t really Stan for anyone I have my favorite artists and Rihanna is one of my favorites but as one of my favorite artist in the world I’m embarrassed for her. Only 460 albums sold ? Well I got my free download and purchased now I’m waiting on Drake and Beyonce new album and Nicki new mixtape

    • HailBeysus February 1, 2016


      • Mariah The Legend February 1, 2016

        after half a day on Tidal idiot.

    • MadonnaThaDinosoaur February 1, 2016


  35. Mariah The Legend February 1, 2016

    so Ciara and Lana will be certified too? A MESS. SMH

  36. Mariah The Legend February 1, 2016

    hopefully Beyonce the alleged “album seller” can get a Diamond certification. *sips champagne*

    • DTG February 2, 2016

      Do the world a favor and sip cyanide, you doomed loser. You’re not worthy of the oxygen you’re taking up.

  37. Weezy Tha Goat February 1, 2016

    Maybe Ciara flop ass can finally go gold.

    • #JACKIE February 1, 2016

      Maybe Lil Weazel can finally release his album and get a hit single this decade.

      • Weezy Tha Goat February 1, 2016

        Wayne has multiple hit singles and multi Platinum albums THIS DECADE.??. The irony, is that Ciara’s last successful album was in 2006!!! ????. #10yearsago #10yearsago #10yearsago #10yearsago #10yearsago #10yearsago #10yearsago #10yearsago

  38. Oscar February 1, 2016

    this is sad, the legends who worked for 2 or 3 diamond albums will have their records stomped all over all because of this

  39. Barb B**** February 1, 2016

    Chart News ‏@chartnews

    Billboard 200: #27(new) @rihanna, ANTI 15,896 album equivalent units [460 pure album sales + 4,239,279 streams].

    • #JACKIE February 1, 2016


    • HailBeysus February 1, 2016

      SCREAMING Poor AntiSuccess even with the deluxe failure edition out it still did poor.
      @LINDA Bitxh tidal released a statement saying ANTI SOLD 400K IN 2 days on their site. Stop telling lies h**!

    • AnnaliseKeatingsNewWig February 1, 2016

      SCREAMSSSSS! Fat baby jesus is jumping for the kii kii’s hunni!!!!

    • AnnaliseKeatingsNewWig February 1, 2016

      SCREAMINGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!! vigilANTI is only at 27 on the Billboard 200 LMAOOOOOO! this is even worse than Music of the Sun. DiarRIHeah tried and failedT!

  40. Jamie February 1, 2016

    They’re ruining the industry. It’s not even exciting anymore. I hope they’re planning on retroing those rules to previous releases. It’s only fair.

  41. MUSICHEAD February 1, 2016

    This makes complete sense. Let’s not forget that in the 90’s 70 of the top 100 albums at any given point were at least certified Gold. Although I don’t stream music most people do and it is time those streams are reflected in record sales.

    • Sandra February 1, 2016

      A stream is NOT a sale. Make new charts and certification for streaming, I don’t care, but don’t mess up the old certification system with this craap. RIAA only care about money Smh, how the hell is streaming a song for 30 seconds the same as buying an album for $12 ??

  42. Sandra February 1, 2016

    A stream is NOT a sale. Make new charts and certification for streaming, I don’t care, but don’t mess up the old certification system with this craap. RIAA only care about money Smh, how the hell is streaming a song for 30 seconds the same as buying an album for $12 ??
    How is watching a viral video on youtube the same as buying a album for $12 ??
    #BoycottRIAA until they create new system for streams only, NOT included with the real sales…

    • MUSICHEAD February 1, 2016

      You clearly have no idea how this works lol. I need u to go research how many streams = a sale. Then I need u to research how people consume music now compared to the old days when people actually bought whole albums. When you’re finished, join the rest of us in this discussion and tell us what you learned.

  43. King Mark111 /.\ February 1, 2016

    New age, new rules. Get with it or get left behind.

  44. Theman February 1, 2016

    Excuses! This is crap. If people really want an album they’ll buy it. Artists should not make albums anymore. If you don’t want to pay for the art then leave it alone. Streaming is for flops. Adele, Taylor, Carrie, Both Justin’s, Pink, Em, Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, Beyonce ect sale their albums. They just want to make it easy for flops. People purchase what they like. This new era is a damn flop. They give away everything.

  45. Stephon Jackson February 1, 2016


  46. RihannaNavyStan February 1, 2016

    Yassss Rihanna changed the game lol Queen RiRi …

  47. FC/JC February 1, 2016

    Self Titled impressed changes upon the industry, Meanwhile ANTI is only pushing RIAA to include streams in certifications….. Dass Sadd.

    • HailBeysus February 1, 2016

      Lmao the Navy are officially at the bottom. How is your fave going to have 13# singles, 100 million singles sold in the US, be the most streamed female artists of 2015 yet only sell 460 albums in 1 day 15 with stream. What kind of fuxking Digital Queen??? Hahahahaha Cici could never! Kiii!

  48. Courtney February 1, 2016

    things adapt with time so these changes are understandable it’s the same as an actors pay being partly merit based and also certain actors receiving profit participation in their movies

  49. Dylan Birks February 1, 2016

    Why is everyone bitching? You do realize that before streaming was originally included,artist like Brandy,Tamia,Joe,Tank,& Monica were able to chart at least on the r&b charts,but when they placed that new rule it excluded them and made the winning game only for the most marketed artist Beyonce,Rihanna,and Chris Brown, to actually win. All this does is level the playing field for the underrated and independent artist at least as far as sales go. We live in an age where people watch an official music video on YouTube 1,000,000 times,play Pandora on a regular basis, use Spotify and Tidal to listen to music on the go and such. I do agree with supporting artist by actually buying the songs, but if you can’t the industry, has made it that much more substantial for music lovers.

  50. FC/JC February 1, 2016

    OMG This means Jackie is now 5x Multi Platinum, Because we all know you broke b****** streamed the hell out of that album, and those videos!

    Lmfao, In all seriousness though…. this industry is a fvcking joke.

  51. Royalkev February 1, 2016

    I’m sorry, but Billboard really need to sort music history data into two different categories like it’s the Old/New Testament. There should be a 1940 (which was when a “Popular music” ranking chart was first tabulated) – 2012 Billboard chart … and an after 2012 music chart (where streaming is incorporated). Streaming is clearly a tactic used to aid today’s struggling artists that can’t shift huge sales, but want to appear competent enough to match records set by the elite of previous decades! Only a small handful in the industry now seem poised to position themselves to ONE DAY be comfortably grouped amongst them down the line. These new streaming certifications shouldn’t be anything more than a footnote! Giving away these gold/platinum certifications like it’s antibiotics for street walkers juggling clients is going to be the reason this industry is considered a joke! It’s goes against everything Billboard is built on. This is clearly a case where separate does not need to be equal.

  52. Casual February 1, 2016

    I’m riding with Sam on this one. Streaming should not count towards BB200 rankings or certifications. Streaming is streaming; sales are sales. What is hard about this? We have streaming charts for artists who do well in that format; likewise for the BB200 and metallic certs. The purpose of the BB200 and of the entire certifications process is to know how albums sell AS ALBUMS.

  53. ~The Arcade~ February 1, 2016

    Pitiful… just pitiful! You don’t even have to work to earn platinum anymore smh

  54. ~The Arcade~ February 1, 2016

    Pitiful… just pitiful! You don’t even have to work hard to earn platinum anymore smh

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