Understanding: RIAA / Label audits – The case of Michael Jackson

♥♥♥MICHAEL JACKSON♥♥♥

It’s time for a little ThrillerMichael Jackson‘s Thriller. Among the big mysteries of charts and sales the most fundamental one is the true understanding of certifications. What better to put a hand on them than by studying carefully those of one of the biggest artists of all-time, in the biggest market of all!

The album Thriller is the highest certified album ever with 33 Platinum awards celebrating its 33 million sales in the country. This is Wikipedia-like information, e.g. information with relatively little value without a better understanding of it. In fact, the 33 million copies of Thriller do not represent the same thing as the 9 million copies certified of Off The Wall, themselves not representing the same as the 7 million units certified of HIStory. In reality we are comparing apples and oranges rather than sales.

Distinct rules aren’t the only limitations of RIAA awards. The awards weren’t all issued on the same date, so they cover sales from different time periods. Some awards were provided when overdue while others came years after the criteria was reached. Then, those awards work by a threshold, not providing us details in-between them.

What if we shine some light on those poorly understood areas? While doing so we will establish up to date sales of all the Epic released albums by Michael Jackson, which can only be seen as a positive consequence! No more talk, it’s time for raw data!

8 thoughts on “Understanding: RIAA / Label audits – The case of Michael Jackson”

  1. wow wow just wow at the detailed analysis. loved reading every bit of that! i guess we now know who the next artist to be posted will be 😉 especially that his US sales are now done, and those generated from his days with jackson 5!

  2. I would like a similar analysis for GARTH BROOKS. Obviously, his team knows how to play with the RIAA rules. Some chart freaks suggest he’s over-certified (plus double albums and box sets rising his total amount of certified units high enough to rival Elvis).

  3. Many thanks for this very, very interesting and informative article!

    There is one thing that I do not fully understand: The Certification method for Multi-Disc-Albums. You wrote: “As a double album with 3,7 million shipped – 200,000 units since its last award, History needs only 300,000 EAS to be eligible.”

    As far as I know 1 EAS equals 10 Digital Song Downloads and/or 1500 Streams. Lets assume that History generated 300 k EAS with Streaming and Digital Single Sales. Would RIAA really count those EAS twice just because the Source Album was a 2-Disc Set decades ago? I do not know – maybe they do but from my point of view this would be somewhat illogical. To evaluate 3,7 Million Double Album Sales as 7,4 Million Units is understandable. Adding in 300 k EAS should result in 7,7 Million Units – not 8 (except the RIAA defines 1 EAS Unit for a Double Albums with 20 Downloads and/or 3000 Streams).

    Speaking of Units and Michaels History Album: I also have it on Vinyl and the set consist of 3 records. Theoretically it would be conceivable that the RIAA evaluates this as 3 units (I’m pretty sure they do not). If History had been published in the vinyl era, that would surely be the case.

    1. Hi Jason!

      It is normal if you are not fully understand – it’s make that’s my error 😉

      I had that in mind while writting the file, I have put the valid number but then extended the formula of the other albums without noticing it broke HIStory’s total. I’m going to fix it right now!

  4. Your best article yet. Please, the international sales for MJ’s music must be done soon! It looks like MJ sold around 30M digital singles from his Epic studio albums, with physical additions and then international sales he must be one of the biggest singles artists ever!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *