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Digital Platinum: Recording Industry to Count Streams in Album Sale Awards

In acknowledgement of the extreme popularity of streaming music online, the Recording Industry Association of America announced that it will now count streams toward the coveted gold and platinum awards for popular albums.

The RIAA previously counted streams toward a "digital" single award, but this expands it to the older, more prestigious category.

"We know that music listening — for both for albums and songs — is skyrocketing, yet that trend has not been reflected in our album certifications," said RIAA CEO Cary Sherman in a press release. "Modernizing our Album Award to include music streaming is the next logical step in the continued evolution of Gold & Platinum Awards."

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From now on, 1,500 streams will be considered equal to 10 track sales or one album sale. That means if a song is played on YouTube or Spotify a million times, those plays will count as 667 albums sold. By that metric, the 2.5 billion views on YouTube of Psy's "Gangnam Style" would qualify it for platinum status on their own.

With the rule change, 17 artists and albums were retroactively given gold and platinum awards, among them The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar, and Big Sean — even Michael Jackson got a boost, with streams pushing the classic "Thriller" to 32x multi-platinum.

You can see recent additions to the exclusive list of big sellers at the RIAA's website.