How Do You Earn a “Gold” or “Platinum” Award in the US?

It depends whether it’s a download, stream, or proper sale.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) celebrated 60 years of certifying Gold and Platinum records in 2018. Artists looking to join the ranks of pioneers like The Eagles (Their Greatest Hits became the first platinum album in 1976) and Oklahoma! (the musical’s cast recording went gold in 1958) must exceed certain sales numbers to earn a plaque of their own. 

The RIAA’s four official certification requirements are 500,000 units (Gold), 1 million units (Platinum), 2 million units (Multi-Platinum), and 10 million units (Diamond, a level reached by such royalty as Led Zeppelin, Mariah Carey, Outkast, and Garth Brooks). 

While digital and physical albums both count as one “unit” per sale, the RIAA requires 10 permanent track downloads and 1,500 on-demand video or audio streams for the very same amount. In other words, 1,000 downloads and 150,000 streams both equal the 100 units you’d earn by selling just 100 physical or digital albums. 


Click here to learn about the specific requirements for an album. 

Click here to learn about the specific requirements for a song. 


To learn more about the RIAA’s certification process, visit their official site here.


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