RIAA Certifications: Streaming included on Albums awards

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5. “One stream isn’t one sale, full stop!”

Nobody claimed it was. RIAA claims it requires 1,500 streams to equal 1 sale. This is a massive amount one has to listen to – something like listening to an album 100 hours in total. Is there someone really considering this a lesser commitment than putting a few bucks in?

6. “Viral videos will artificially inflate album sales”

Wrong. As stated by RIAA, “only official label/company videos count towards certification; user-generated videos do not“. Official music videos streams are obviously just as valid as music streams as many younger consumers prefer using Youtube than Spotify or so. This is again only a replacement consumption solution rather than a newly artificially created solution.

7. “Same consumption will be double-counted in singles and albums front”

True. Due to the in-between situation we are in, half physicals, half digitals, it turns out rather difficult to properly split each sale/stream into a category, namely Album or Single, that doesn’t necessarily has the same meaning on both eras. For now, there is no clarification on RIAA website on how they will be avoiding double counting. A quick explanation, a hit selling 5 million downloads will, as per current rules, be certified both as a 5x Platinum award for the single and as a Gold award for parent album (5 million / 10 = 500,000). When adding both Singles and Albums tallies into an artist results, this may lead to account the same sale two times, thus double counting.

Overreaction isn’t needed because of this flaw yet. Indeed, while RIAA doesn’t state a solution for this case it doesn’t mean there is none. They may be disallowing singles to be certified if sales and streams already audited as part of the parent album and vice-versa. Also, as soon as the situation will be definitely clear with mostly streaming resisting, this problem will disappear by itself. As there will be only 1 way of consumption, singles won’t exist anymore, an album and its songs will be seen as an overall franchise with all data being certified into it.

As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!

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

      LED ZEPPELIN – LED ZEPPELIN I (1969)
      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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