Acknowledging digital streams is only the fifth major change to the awards since 1958.
As Billboard reports, the RIAA will now incorporate on-demand streams when calculating Gold and Platinum certifications. While the unit sales have remained untouched over the years (500,000 for Gold, 1 million for Platinum, and 10 million for Diamond), the RIAA’s previous changes have seen cassette tapes, CDs, digital downloads, and then ringtones added to the formula.
The on-demand streaming services that will be counted include MOG, Muve Music, Rdio, Rhapsody, Slacker, Spotify, and Xbox Music, along with video streams from MTV.com, VEVO, Yahoo! Music and YouTube. The new formula will result in awards for 56 new titles, including efforts by Emeli Sandé, 30 Seconds to Mars, and Cher Lloyd.
While the decision to include streams was an easy one, the RIAA deliberated for more than a year to decide how many streams would be equivalent to a single sale. The group eventually settled on 100, the average streams-on-demand that each downloaded song receives. The move follows Billboard’s decision to add YouTube streaming data to its charts, which explains the recent chart success of viral hits like Baauer’s ‘Harlem Shake’.