From vinyl to cassette, and from cd to the paid mp3: the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has always strived to keep up with technology in its documentation of record sales and effective awards considerations based on those sales. Now, in the age of convenience where playing your digitalised library via Apple Music and Spotify has become the norm, the RIAA has decided that streaming is also to be included for the determination of album sales and consequent platinum, gold or silver awards. 

The RIAA released the news after Rihanna’s ANTI album went platinum following its downloadable release.

Pitchfork reports that one single stream does not actually equal one sale. The way the RIAA will calculate it is as follows: 1,500 on-demand audio or video streams will amount to one album sale. (On-demand streaming refers to the ability to choose what song you’re listening to—services like Spotify and Apple Music, not internet radio sites like Pandora). The platform posed the significant question whether one song from an album played 17 times counts as much as one listen to a 17-track album – as this isn’t clarified by the organisation.

Cary Sherman, CEO and chairman of the RIAA, made a statement about the decision to include streaming in the RIAA’s album sales documentation:

“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.”