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In the United Statesmarker, the Recording Industry Association of America awards certification based on the number of albums and singles sold through retail and other ancillary markets. Other countries have similar awards (see music recording sales certification). Certification is not automatic; for an award to be made, the record label must request certification and pay a fee to have the sales of the recording audited. The audit is conducted against net shipments after returns (most often an artist's royalty statement is used), which includes albums sold directly to retailers and one-stops, direct to consumer sales (music clubs and mail order) and other outlets.

Presently, an American RIAA-certified gold record is a single or album that has sold 500,000 units (records, tapes or compact discs). Originally, the requirement for a gold single was one million units sold and a gold album represented $1 million in sales (at wholesale value). In 1975, the additional requirement of 500,000 units sold was added for gold albums. Reflecting growth in record sales, the platinum award was instituted in 1976 for albums selling one million units and singles selling two million units. The multi-platinum award was instituted in 1984, signifying multiple platinum levels of albums and singles. In 1989, the sales thresholds for singles were reduced to 500,000 for gold and 1,000,000 for platinum, reflecting a decrease in sales of singles. In 1992, RIAA began counting each disc in a multi-disc set as one unit toward certification. Because of these changes in criteria, the sales level associated with a particular award depends on when the award was made.

Nielsen SoundScan figures are not used in RIAA certification; the RIAA system predates Nielsen SoundScan and includes sales outlets Nielsen misses. Prior to Nielsen SoundScan, RIAA certification was the only audited and verifiable system for tracking music sales in the U.S.; it is still the only system capable of tracking 100% of sales (albeit as shipments less returns, not actual sales like Nielsen SoundScan). This system has allowed, at times, for record labels to promote an album as gold or platinum simply based on large shipments. For instance, in 1978 the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band soundtrack shipped platinum but was a sales bust, with two million returns. Similarly, all four solo albums by the members of Kiss simultaneously shipped platinum that same year but none of them even managed to crack the top 20 of the Billboard 200 album chart. The following year, the RIAA began requiring 120 days from the release date before recordings were eligible for certification, although that requirement has been reduced over the years and currently stands at 30 days. More recently, Sony was roundly criticized in 1995 for hyping Michael Jackson's double album HIStory as five times platinum, based on shipments of 2.5 million and using the RIAA's recently adopted practice of counting each disc toward certification, while SoundScan was reporting only 1.3 million copies sold. A similar discrepancy between shipments and sales was reported with The Lion King soundtrack.

List of certifications

Albums

Currently, the RIAA certification criteria for albums are:
  • 500,000 units: Gold album.
  • 1,000,000 units: Platinum album.
  • 2,000,000 or more units: Multi-Platinum album.
  • 10,000,000 units: Diamond album.


Multi-disc

Multi-disc albums are counted once for each disc within the album if it is over 100 minutes in length or is from the vinyl era. For example, each copy of OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (running time of 134:56), and Shania Twain's Up! (145:44), both double albums, were counted twice, meaning each album was certified diamond after 5 million copies were shipped. Pink Floyd's The Wall and The Beatles' White Album, both vinyl-era, are counted double even though their running times are under the minimum.

Spanish

The following certifications are given only to recordings of which over 50% of the content is in the Spanish language [39045] :
  • 100,000 units: Oro album.
  • 200,000 units: Platino album.
  • 400,000 units: Multi-Platino album.


Singles

It is estimated that there have been about 2,550 combined single certifications.

Standard singles are certified:

Note: Before January 1, 1989, gold was achieved at 1,000,000 copies, and platinum at 2,000,000[39046].

Digital

Recently, digital singles have begun to be certified due to the increase of the digital market and decrease of the physical commercial singles market. Although digital downloads have been around since 2003, they weren't considered to be significant until 2005, when they were first counted towards the Hot 100. Because of this, it is important to distinguish between singles that came out before and after the change (as singles after the change sold in higher quantities at a faster rate, while the older singles took longer to reach levels of certification). After the change, the certification standards were brought up to the same standard as retail distribution. Since then, digital distribution has become a prime selling method for singles - overhead can be considerable when distributing a CD with only a few tracks on it, and the roughly $1/track standard for digital distribution, combined with the ease of use in sellers like iTunes, has caused enormous growth.

Digital singles are certified:

Records

Lists from RIAA site showing current status holders of RIAA Certifications:

Artists with the most certifications of Gold, Platinum and Multi-Platinum albums

Albums that have been certified Gold might receive additional certifications for achieving Platinum and Multi-Platinum levels.

Artist # Gold # Platinum # Multi-Platinum Total source
Elvis Presley 82 45 24 151
The Beatles 45 39 24 108
Barbra Streisand 50 30 13 93
George Strait 38 33 13 84
Rolling Stones 42 28 11 81
Elton John 38 26 12 76
Neil Diamond 40 21 11 72
Kenny Rogers 31 19 8 58
Bob Dylan 36 16 5 57
Aerosmith 25 18 12 55
Rod Stewart 26 18 10 54
Reba McEntire 26 19 9 54
AC/DC 20 20 12 52
Alabama 22 20 10 52
Bruce Springsteen 21 17 10 48
Chicago 22 18 8 48
Frank Sinatra 34 10 4 48
Garth Brooks 16 16 15 47
Madonna 18 17 12 47
Billy Joel 18 17 12 47
Prince 23 16 7 46
Pink Floyd 18 15 12 45
Eric Clapton 25 12 8 45
Barry Manilow 24 13 6 43
Luther Vandross 19 15 7 41


Artists with the most certifications of Gold, Platinum and Multi-Platinum singles

Singles that have been certified Gold might receive additional certifications for achieving Platinum and Multi-Platinum levels. For example, Barbra Streisand has had 8 singles certified Gold, 5 of which went on to achieve Platinum certification as well.

This list includes the RIAA formats 'Single' and 'Video Single'. This list includes singles of the RIAA types 'standard' and 'digital'.

This table tracks artists with some number of singles that have received at least ten total certifications.

Artist # Gold # Platinum # Multi-Platinum Total source
Elvis Presley 54 27 8 89
Mariah Carey 23 10 2 35
The Beatles 24 6 4 34
Madonna 26 6 2 34
Whitney Houston 19 7 2 28
Beyoncé 17 7 3 27
Janet Jackson 21 5 - 26
Michael Jackson 16 9 - 25
Elton John 18 6 1 25
The Temptations 17 6 - 23
Rihanna 10 9 3 22
Taylor Swift 10 7 3 20
Aretha Franklin 18 - - 18
Creedence Clearwater Revival 10 5 - 15
Prince 12 2 - 14
Barbra Streisand 8 5 - 13
TLC 9 4 - 13
Britney Spears 7 4 - 11
Destiny's Child 7 3 - 10 RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for singles by Destiny's Child
The Carpenters 10 - - 10
Christina Aguilera 7 2 - 9
Shakira 5 3 1 9
Linkin Park 2 4 1 7


Diamond sales

Diamond (10+ Million) Certified

Artist Album Release date Certified sales
Michael Jackson Thriller Dec 01 1982 29 million
Eagles Their Greatest Hits Feb 17 1976 29 million
Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin IV Nov 08 1971 23 million
Pink Floyd The Wall Nov 28 1979 23 million
AC/DC Back in Black Jul 21 1980 22 million
Garth Brooks Double Live Nov 17 1998 21 million
Billy Joel Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II Jun 28 1985 21 million
Shania Twain Come on Over Nov 04 1997 20 million
The Beatles The Beatles Nov 25 1968 19 million
Fleetwood Mac Rumours Feb 04 1977 19 million
Guns N' Roses Appetite for Destruction Jul 21 1987 18 million
Boston Boston Aug 25 1976 17 million
Whitney Houston The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album Nov 17 1992 17 million
Garth Brooks No Fences Aug 27 1990 16 million
Hootie & the Blowfish Cracked Rear View Jul 05 1994 16 million
Elton John Elton John's Greatest Hits Nov 04 1974 16 million
Eagles Hotel California Nov 08 1976 16 million
Alanis Morissette Jagged Little Pill Jun 13 1995 16 million
Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti Mar 03 1975 16 million
The Beatles The Beatles 1967 - 1970 Apr 02 1973 16 million
Bruce Springsteen Born in the U.S.A. Jun 01 1984 15 million
Pink Floyd The Dark Side of the Moon Apr 17 1973 15 million
Journey Greatest Hits Nov 11 1988 15 million
The Bee Gees Saturday Night Fever Nov 1 1977 15 million
Santana Supernatural Jun 15 1999 15 million
The Beatles The Beatles 1962 - 1966 Apr 02 1973 15 million
Britney Spears ...Baby One More Time Jan 12 1999 14 million
Backstreet Boys Backstreet Boys Aug 21 1997 14 million
Meat Loaf Bat Out of Hell Jan 30 1977 14 million
Metallica Metallica Aug 02 1991 14 million
Garth Brooks Ropin' The Wind Sep 02 1991 14 million
Simon & Garfunkel Simon & Garfunkel's Greatest Hits Jun 20 1972 14 million
Bruce Springsteen Bruce Springsteen & E Street Band Live 1975 - '85 Nov 07 1986 13 million
Steve Miller Band Greatest Hits 1974-1978 Nov 15 1978 13 million
Backstreet Boys Millennium May 18 1999 13 million
Whitney Houston Whitney Houston Feb 21 1985 13 million
Prince and The Revolution Purple Rain Jun 25 1984 13 million
Pearl Jam Ten Aug 20 1991 13 million
Kenny G Breathless Oct 20 1992 12 million
multiple artists Forrest Gump Jun 17 1994 12 million
The Rolling Stones Hot Rocks Dec 15 1971 12 million
Def Leppard Hysteria Aug 03 1987 12 million
Boyz II Men II Aug 23 1994 12 million
Kenny Rogers Greatest Hits Oct 18 1980 12 million
Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin II Oct 22 1969 12 million
Phil Collins No Jacket Required Apr 15 1985 12 million
Jewel Pieces of You Feb 13 1995 12 million
Bon Jovi Slippery When Wet Aug 18 1986 12 million
Shania Twain The Woman In Me Feb 07 1995 12 million
Matchbox Twenty Yourself or Someone Like You Sep 16 1996 12 million
The Beatles Abbey Road Oct 01 1969 12 million
Dixie Chicks Wide Open Spaces Jan 23 1998 12 million
TLC CrazySexyCool Nov 15 1994 11 million
Aerosmith Aerosmith's Greatest Hits Oct 19 1980 11 million
Shania Twain Up! Nov 19 2002 11 million
Kid Rock Devil Without a Cause Aug 04 1998 11 million
multiple artists Dirty Dancing Aug 04 1987 11 million
Eagles Eagles Greatest Hits Volume II Oct 22 1982 11 million
Celine Dion Falling Into You Mar 02 1996 11 million
Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy Mar 28 1973 11 million
multiple artists Titanic Nov 07 1997 11 million
OutKast Speakerboxxx/The Love Below Sep 23 2003 11 million
The Beatles Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band Jun 02 1967 11 million
'N Sync No Strings Attached Mar 21 2000 11 million
James Taylor James Taylor's Greatest Hits Oct 29 1976 11 million
Creed Human Clay Sep 28 1999 11 million
Dixie Chicks Fly Aug 31 1999 10 million
Garth Brooks Garth Brooks Apr 12 1989 10 million
Patsy Cline Greatest Hits Feb 14 1973 10 million
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers Greatest Hits Nov 16 1993 10 million
Linkin Park Hybrid Theory Oct 24 2000 10 million
Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin Oct 08 1990 10 million
Bob Marley and The Wailers Legend Jul 24 1984 10 million
Celine Dion Let's Talk About Love Nov 05 1997 10 million
George Michael Faith Oct 30 1987 10 million
ZZ Top Eliminator Mar 231983 10 million
The Beatles 1 Nov 13 2000 10 million
Van Halen 1984 Jan 04 1984 10 million
The Doobie Brothers Best of the Doobies Oct 29 1976 10 million
Lionel Richie Can't Slow Down Oct 14 1983 10 million
Norah Jones Come Away with Me Feb 26 2002 10 million
Usher Confessions Mar 23 2004 10 million
Mariah Carey Daydream Oct 03 1995 10 million
Green Day Dookie Feb 01 1994 10 million
The Notorious B.I.G Life After Death Mar 25 1997 10 million
Madonna Like a Virgin Nov 12 1984 10 million
Eric Clapton Unplugged Aug 25 1992 10 million
No Doubt Tragic Kingdom Oct 06 1995 10 million
Billy Joel The Stranger Jan 09 1977 10 million
multiple artists The Lion King: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Apr 27 1994 10 million
U2 The Joshua Tree Mar 09 1987 10 million
Madonna The Immaculate Collection Nov 13 1990 10 million
Garth Brooks The Hits Dec 01 1994 10 million
The Doors The Best of The Doors May 19 1985 10 million
Carole King Tapestry Jan 30 1971 10 million
Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life Sep 28 1976 10 million
Garth Brooks Sevens Nov 01 1997 10 million
Def Leppard Pyromania Jan 20 1983 10 million
MC Hammer Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em Feb 12 1990 10 million
Britney Spears Oops!... I Did It Again May 16 2000 10 million
Nirvana Nevermind Sep 24 1991 10 million
'N Sync *NSYNC Mar 24 1998 10 million
Mariah Carey Music Box Aug 31 1993 10 million
Van Halen Van Halen Feb 10 1978 10 million


See also



References

  1. RIAA certification criteria. Retrieved on September 19, 2006
  2. Hollie, Pamela. "Record Industry: Big Changes" The New York Times January 12, 1980: 27
  3. Farber, Jim. "Don't Buy into Jax' Pyramid Scheme: Platinum-Status Symbol on 'History' Marking Over 5-million Albums Sold Proves to Be as Worthless as Fool's Gold" New York Daily News September 11, 1995
  4. Philips, Chuck. "Sold, Shipped, What's the Diff? About 2 million albums, in the case of 'The Lion King,' pointing up the disparity between industry's sales tally and SoundScan's" Los Angeles Times January 15, 1995: 67
  5. RIAA, Artist Tallies
  6. RIAA, Artist Tallies
  7. RIAA, Artist Tallies
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  29. RIAA, Artist Tallies
  30. RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for singles by Elvis Presley
  31. RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for singles by Mariah Carey
  32. RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for singles by The Beatles
  33. RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for singles by Madonna
  34. RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for singles by Whitney Houston
  35. RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for singles by Beyonce Knowles
  36. RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for singles by Janet Jackson
  37. RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for singles by Michael Jackson
  38. RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for singles by Elton John
  39. RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for singles by The Temptations
  40. RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for singles by # Rihanna
  41. RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for singles by Taylor Swift
  42. RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for singles by Aretha Franklin
  43. RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for singles by Creedence Clearwater Revival
  44. RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for singles by Prince
  45. RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for singles by Barbra Streisand
  46. RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for singles by TLC
  47. RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for singles by Britney Spears
  48. RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for singles by The Carpenters
  49. RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for singles by Christina Aguilera
  50. RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for singles by Shakira
  51. RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for singles by Linkin Park
  52. RIAA - Gold & Platinum - Diamond Certifications


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