According to Billboard, Recording Industry Association of America has altered their formula to certify albums Platinum and Gold, now including streaming as part of the equation. The reasoning behind the change is clear—streaming was recently added to Billboard’s own charts as an indicator of popularity and listening in this manner has exploded, especially through services likes Spotify, Soundcloud and Youtube.
The RIAA’s formula for determining a single or an album’s status has only been altered five times since 1958, a fact that indicates just how much streaming and digital sales are beginning to change the industry. Originally based solely off units sold, the addition of tapes and CD sales was one of the first changes, then digital downloads, and the last change was in 2006 when master ringtones were added.
Now, the RIAA will be using calculations from a number of services, including audio streams from MOG, Muve Music, Rdio, Rhapsody, Slacker, Spotify, Xbox Music and video streams from MTV.com, VEVO, Yahoo! Music and YouTube. Under the new calculations, 100 streams of a song will be equal to one sale—an equivocation that stalled the industry leaders while trying to decide how to incorporate streaming into their factoring process.
The RIAA Chairman and Chief Executive Cary Sherman told Billboard that the decision required lengthy deliberation, given that streaming generates various levels of revenue depending on a number of factors. So, instead, the RIAA looked at the average number of times a song was streamed per download, and landed on 100. The unit sales required for award distinction remain the same: 500,000 unit sales for Gold, 1 million for Platinum and 10 million for Diamond.
“We also felt that pure economics should not be the basis for acknowledging artistic achievement,” Sherman said. Speaking of which, over 56 new titles will be acknowledged given the new rules, including Emeli Sandé‘s “Next To Me,” Lana Del Rey‘s “Video Games” and even one from the old school canon—Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing”