RIAA Certifications: Streaming included on Albums awards

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Don't Stop Believin!

3. “Adding song downloads is nonsense”

Wrong.  This conclusion is one more perspective mistake. Looking at it on our current point, some may consider it strange. This being said, two massive points are often ignored.

First point, singles are no more singles. This is a key. While in the past a single had a proper meaning, e.g. a song sent on radio and released on a dedicated media. In digital world, all album cuts are virtually singles. The logic changed, as people listen to playlists, they download one, two, three songs from the same album without ever caring about what the album was. Consumers still using the likes iTunes are a very specific group of users and they all basically download the same sets of songs. When Katy Perry manages 5 songs selling over 2 million downloads in the US, those are roughly the same 2 million persons. Considering them as having bough 0,5 copy of the album makes then perfect sense since they really did so. Similarly, when one notices all album tracks of successful albums often sell 500,000 copies or so, it should be regarded as more or less the same 500,000 persons who bought most of the album. Singles are no more singles, they are a part of the album.

Second point, single sales are dying. Getting too much offset because of those sales getting included into an album certification is really fighting against a ghost. A few years ago big hits were all selling 6 million, by now they are selling 4 million, in two years they will be selling 2 million. Their impact on album certifications will be more and more irrelevant, even more compared to album sales added to streaming.

4. “Listening many times one song isn’t the same as buying the album”

Wrong. Yes, wrong. People stream complete albums, others some songs, others only one. Guess what? It was exactly the same on physicals era, even worst. In fact, some people were listening to the full album, some were skipping more and more tracks after each weeks, some were listening to only one… and many were listening to no song at all. Very few people are aware that over 40% of album sales are gifts for other people. How many Rod Stewart songbooks never moved from their package after being offered to your grandma? Yeah, tons of them.

6 thoughts on “RIAA Certifications: Streaming included on Albums awards”

  1. Hi MJD, What about GHs albums? How do they know which GH to credit the streams to when an artist has more than 2 compilation albums?

    1. Hello Jeff!
      Very good point you end up raising – I added section 3 on page 2 to answer it. To summarize, when a song appear on several albums of an artist, it is up to the label to decide on which package its results must be attributed. If they will tend to elect the largest selling compilation or the newest one has yet to be seen!

  2. Vow. I’ve “been away” so long I didn’t even realize this rules change came, LOL!
    I suppose it makes sense, people consume music differently now than before.

    Your CSPC for Michael Jackson uses a US sales template of 30.4m, when it’s already been certified 33xP. The change is obviously the reasen why. Anyway you then add downloads/streaming in your analysis yourself, so that’s all good.
    But 20 years from now when it’s certified 40xP isn’t it gonna be difficult for you to update your CSPC? How many of those next 7 platinum discs are from album sales? How are you gonna determine your sales template then?

    1. Hi Thomas!

      For now, there is still enough material to distinguish sales from all formats. The US Top Album Sales is available, the UK has both individual rankings, same for France, Australia and Japan.

      Obviously it is going to become harder and harder to track those sales, but luckily they are also getting smaller and smaller. Once the info isn’t available anymore, I’ll have to set automatic ratio as per market figures, for example using 10% sales / 90% TEA/SEA or whatever. We also have enough experience now to know which albums / artists are going to do well/poorly on each format, so I’m not worried really.

      The main struggle we may face is the lack of consistency from recording industries of all countries since they all use distinct convertion ratios. That’s why so far I prefer sticking to individual raw data and apply my own formula to make sure to avoid overweighting some markets.

  3. Hi MJD,

    There is an ongoing discussion in UKMIX on whether an album’s popularity should be measured by the least streamed song in the album. Luv to have your views!

    1. I don’t know if it is the answer, to measure an albums popularity by it’s least streamed song but it does throw up a few questions & issues I’ve seen.

      If you take total streams as your key indicator of an albums popularity, it doesn’t really show the albums true popularity IMO. As an example;

      QUEEN – HOT SPACE (1982)
      UNDER PRESSURE — 225,489,899 — 94.33%
      LAS PALABRAS DE AMOR — 3,513,335 — 1.47%
      COOL CAT — 2,971,267 — 1.24%
      BODY LANGUAGE — 1,374,849 — 0.58%
      STAYING POWER — 1,129,254 — 0.47%
      BACK CHAT — 966,908 — 0.40%
      ACTION THIS DAY — 893,387 — 0.37%
      CALLING ALL GIRLS — 864,816 — 0.36%
      PUT OUT THE FIRE — 683,011 — 0.29%
      LIFE IS REAL — 592,647 — 0.25%
      DANCER — 567,180 — 0.24%
      HOT SPACE TOTAL — 239,046,553

      GOOD TIMES BAD TIMES — 77,296,456 — 36.42%
      BABE I’M GONNA LEAVE YOU — 36,878,537 — 17.38%
      DAZED & CONFUSED — 30,657,239 — 14.44%
      COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN — 19,822,168 — 9.34%
      I CANT QUIT YOU BABY — 13,613,097 — 6.41%
      YOU SHOOK ME — 12,258,181 — 5.78%
      HOW MANY MORE TIMES — 8,383,294 — 3.95%
      YOUR TIME IS GONNA COME — 6,954,355 — 3.28%
      BLACK MOUNTAINSIDE — 6,381,490 — 3.01%
      LED ZEPPELIN I TOTAL — 212,244,817

      Looking at the overall totals, HS is clearly the more successful/popular album, in fact, it’s most listened to track UP at 225,489,899, has more listens on it’s own, than the entire LZI album.

      UP accounts for a massive 225,489,000 (94.33%) streams of HS, while the other 10 tracks only account for 13,556,654 ( 5.67%). It has only 1 track above 4m streams and 6 below 1m.

      LZI doesn’t have a mega smash like UP but GTBTs still has a respectable 77,296,456 (36.42%), while the other 8 tracks account for 134,981,361 (63.58%). It has every track above 6m and 6 of it’s 9 above 12m.

      Admittedly UP beats LZI on it’s own, but LZI’s least listened to track BM at 6,381,490, has been streamed more times than every track on HS bar UP and approximately 700,000 more times than the bottom 7 (of 11) tracks on HS. (5,697,203).

      It is hard to take away the insane popularity of certain tracks on certain albums but from a streaming perspective, I’d say they skew an albums actually popularity in some cases, if just looking at the overall total.

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