There was a time when a gold-record single was simple to define: You got the designation from the Recording Industry Association of America when you sold 500,000 copies of your record.
But times have changed, and the old 45-r.p.m. single of yesteryear is as archaic as a typewriter. Indeed, people don’t buy many singles of any kind in brick-and-mortar stores these days, and some people aren’t even buying them as digital downloads online, preferring to listen to songs on streaming services like Spotify, Rdio or Rhapsody.
So on Thursday, the association changed its rules to incorporate on-demand streams in its calculations of gold records. It is only the fifth major change in methodology the association has made since it started handing out gold records in 1958.
But how many streams are equal to one digital sale? After a year of studying digital downloads and on-demand audio and video streams, the association decided that 100 streams is about the same as one downloaded single, what they call “an approximate barometer of comparative consumer activity.”
Under the new rules several singles that never reached the 500,000-copies-sold threshold were suddenly awarded Gold Digital Single Awards: 30 Seconds to Mars’s “This Is War,” Anna Kendrick’s “Cups”, Emeli Sandé’s “Next to Me”, Juanes’s “La Camisa Negra”, Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games”, the Weeknd’s “Wicked Games” and Wisin & Yandel’s “Follow The Leader.”
The new rules pushed other singles into platinum territory (the equivalent of 1 million copies sold under the old system). They included Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” Andy Grammer’s “Keep Your Head Up” and Whitney Houston’s ”I Will Always Love You,” which was certified as a double platinum single.