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Gold and Platinum Awards

By Patrick Mondout

Like most entertainment industries, the music industry absolutely loves to heaps tons of awards upon itself. In 1958, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which has fast become the evil corporate enemy of Generation Y for filing lawsuits against online music traders, introduced the "Gold record" award for $1 million in album sales based on the manufacturer's wholesale price. The Gold single signifies one million copies sold.

In 1975, with album prices more than triple there 1958 levels and Gold albums about as easy to get as VD at a hooker's convention, the qualifications for album certification were strengthened to require that a Gold album also sell a minimum of 500,000 copies in addition to reaching $1 million in sales. The next year, the Platinum award was introduced for 1 million copies sold, with $2 million in sales at the manufacturer's wholesale price. The Platinum single is awarded for two million copies sold.  The Eagles' "Greatest Hits 1971-1975" was the first Platinum album certified by the RIAA and Johnny Taylor's "Disco Lady" was the first Platinum single.

In 1983, new standards were set for multi-albums of three or vinyl sets or the tape/CD equivalent (counted as one unit). Gold multi-album status was awarded for 250,000 copies sold, and $2 million in sales. Platinum multi-albums were awarded for 500,000 copies sold, with $4 million in sales.

In December 1984, the RIAA introduced the Multi-Platinum category. The switch from 8-tracks and vinyl to cassettes and compact discs, which caused everyone to buy at least one more copy of each of their favorite titles, led to the implementation of this award for sales of two million copies or more. Certified at 20 million, Michael Jackson's Thriller was one of the first Multi-Platinum awards presented. It remains the top certified album of all time, with 25 million copies sold in the United States. Prince's When Doves Cry becomes the first Multi-Platinum single by August, 1984.

As sales of singles continued a decade-long decline, Gold single certification was reduced in 1989 to sales of a mere 500,000 units, making it twice as easy as before to get a Gold record.

About Our Figures

First, Motown for whatever reason did not submit figures for their recordings for many years, so bestselling artists like Stevie Wonder should have more sales to their credit. Second, the figures were gathered in early 2000 and in late 2003 and will not be updated.  



1: Elvis Presley, 81

2: Barbra Streisand, 42

3: Beatles, 40

4: Rolling Stones, 37

5: Neil Diamond, 35

Note: Current as of January 31, 2000

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