RIAA to Count Streaming Towards Album Certifications

Seventeen albums immediately affected by rare rule change

RIAA has changed its rules to now count streaming towards album certifications, including Kendrick Lamar's 'To Pimp a Butterfly' Credit: Taylor Hill/Getty

The Recording Industry Association of America has changed its rules to now factor streaming sales into its singles and albums certification process. The change has now made 17 albums either platinum or gold automatically.

"For nearly six decades, whether it's vinyl, CDs, downloads or now streams, the Gold & Platinum Program has adapted to recognize the benchmarks of success in an evolving music marketplace," RIAA's Chairman and CEO Cary Sherman said in a statement. "We know that music listening — for both albums and songs — is skyrocketing, yet that trend had not been reflected in our album certifications. Modernizing our Album Award certifications to include music streaming is the next logical step in the continued evolution of Gold & Platinum Awards, and doing so enables RIAA to fully reward the success of artists' albums today."

In the organization's new formula, 1,500 streams will be the equivalent of 10 single-song sales or one album sale. The new rules affect a diverse collection of albums, mostly from newer artists. Debut albums from Halsey and Fifth Harmony are now certified gold, while Shawn Mendes' Handwritten is now platinum. Meanwhile, albums like Sam Hunt's Montevallo and The Weeknd's Beauty Behind the Madness have gone 2x platinum. Michael Jackson's Thriller has reached 32x Platinum, as well.

Even though the new rules mean that Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly is now certified Platinum, Anthony Tiffith, the CEO of Lamar's label Top Dawg Entertainment, refused to acknowledge the achievement. "We don't stand behind this [RIAA] bs. Ole skool [sic] rules apply, 1 million albums sold is platinum," he tweeted. Until we reach that #, save all the congrats." In another post, Tiffith wrote, "No cheat codes 2 platinum."

See the 17 albums affected by the new RIAA rule below.

Alt-J, An Awesome Wave (Atlantic Records): Gold 
Big Sean, Dark Sky Paradise (Def Jam Recordings): Platinum 
Brett Eldredge, Bring You Back (Atlantic Nashville): Gold
Coldplay, Ghost Stories (Atlantic/Parlophone): Platinum
Elle King, Love Stuff (RCA): Gold
Fifth Harmony, Reflection (Epic): Gold
Halsey, Badlands (Astralwerks): Gold 
Hozier, Hozier (Columbia): Platinum
Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly (Top Dawg Entertainment/Interscope): Platinum
Michael Jackson, Thriller (Epic/Legacy): 32X Multi-Platinum
Miranda Lambert, Platinum (RCA Nashville): Platinum
Romeo Santos, Fórmula Vol. 2 (Sony Latin): 11X Diamante/RIAA Latin G&P Program
Sam Hunt, Montevallo (MCA Nashville): 2X Multi-Platinum
Shawn Mendes, Handwritten (Island Records): Platinum
The Weeknd, Beauty Behind the Madness (XO/Republic Records): 2X Multi-Platinum
Vance Joy, Dream Your Life Away (Atlantic Records): Gold
Wale, Ambition (Atlantic Urban): Gold