How Many Streams to Go Gold? A Guide to RIAA Certifications

Freddie Mercury's RIAA Sales Award For 'Queen', 1973,
Freddie Mercury’s RIAA Sales Award For ‘Queen’, 1973,

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We break down how many streams you need to get RIAA Gold, Platinum, and Diamond awards.

New artists and producers see streaming as a path to success, especially with the ease of uploading your music and the amount of potential audience you can reach within each platform.

But real industry success goes beyond mere exposure – a major indicator of that is the RIAA Gold, Platinum, and Diamond awards.

Fortunately, RIAA now counts streams in their award calculations. Read on for a quick rundown of how many streams you need to achieve Gold and other RIAA levels and how to get certified.

Who Can Receive Gold, Platinum, or Diamond Certifications From Streams?

Before worrying about the numbers, you must know whether you are eligible to receive the certifications in the first place.

To earn RIAA Gold, Platinum, or Diamond awards, artists must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Sales and streams must originate in the US.
  • Only free and paid streams on authorized music services reported to record labels contribute to RIAA certifications.
  • Only official label or company videos are eligible, not user uploads.

How Many Streams You Need to Go Gold, Platinum, or Diamond

Here’s a breakdown of the number of sales and streams required for RIAA Gold, Platinum, and Diamond certifications:

CategoryMinimum No. of Sales or Streams for GoldMinimum No. of Sales or Streams for PlatinumMinimum No. of Sales or Streams for Diamond
Digital Singles500,000 units or 75 million streams1,000,000 units or 150 million streams10,000,000 units or 1.5 billion streams
EPs & Full-Length Albums500,000 units or 750 million streams1,000,000 units or 1.5 billion streams2,000,000 units or 3 billion streams
Music Video (Single)20,000 units or 30 million streams50,000 units or 75 million streams100,000 units or 150 million streams
Music Video (Longform)50,000 units or 75 million streams100,000 units or 150 million streams200,000 units or 300 million streams

Streaming calculation for digital singles

For digital singles, one sale unit equals 150 paid on-demand streams, including downloads and video streams. So, if a song is downloaded or streamed 150 times on platforms like Spotify or YouTube, it counts as one sale. This includes all versions of the song, such as remixes.

Platinum and Diamond awards are recertified “at each million unit sales level.” For example, an album that goes Platinum is recertified as 2x Platinum after selling another million copies, and so on.

Streaming calculation for EPs and full albums

On the other hand, EPs and full-length albums need ten downloads or 1500 audio or video streams to count as one sale. EPs must have 3-5 tracks and be over 30 minutes long, while full albums must keep 75% of their original content in deluxe editions to qualify.

For multi-disc albums, each disc counts as one sale unit towards certification if the set runs at least 100 minutes. In other words, a two-disc album sold as a set counts as two units per sale. Thus, selling a million sets equals two million units for RIAA certification.

EPs and full-length albums are recertified Platinum with every additional one million album sales.

Music video singles also count towards physical album sales if they have no more than two tracks and are under 15 minutes long. Longform music videos qualify, too, provided they weren’t previously released in theaters. Both are recertified at every 50,000 and 100,000 units sold, respectively.

How to Apply for the Gold, Platinum, or Diamond Certifications

To apply for RIAA certification, email the completed RIAA Certification Request Excel form and supporting documents to [email protected]. Make sure to specify the certification level you’re seeking. After verification and approval, the RIAA will initiate the audit.

You can certify multiple titles together for a discount if they’re under the same billing contact. Make sure to check the RIAA website for detailed application instructions for digital singles and albums.

Artists can also seek assistance from their distributors for RIAA certification.

For example, if you’re with DistroKid and your music has reached Gold or Platinum status, you can notify them. They’ll check your numbers and handle the certification process with the RIAA.

Once approved, you can buy plaques for your team, which costs $350 per certification for RIAA member companies and $450 for non-members. This must be prepaid by either you or the recipients.

How to Increase Your Digital Streams

Boosting your digital streams is vital to growing your audience and reaching RIAA certification milestones. Here are strategies for doing just that:

  • Promote your music on social networks: Enhance your music’s online visibility and streams by directly interacting with fans and building a community that actively shares your work. You can also use targeted advertising and analytics on Facebook and Instagram to strategically reach potential fans.
  • Send your music to radio stations: Radio play boosts streaming numbers by exposing your songs to a wider audience and broader recognition. Send an electronic press kit to radio shows that match your genre, and ensure you submit digital links instead of MP3 files for easier sharing.
  • Try Spotify ads: Starting at $250, Spotify Ad Studio lets you create professional ads and track your campaign’s performance in real time. Try targeting audiences by specific demographics, interests, and behaviors to produce more streams and engagement with your music using free ad-creation tools.
  • Use third-party services to promote your music: Services like Groover can boost your music’s digital streams by connecting artists with influencers, playlist curators, and music professionals who can promote tracks to a broader audience. This leads to increased streams, helping artists reach certification milestones and grow their fan base.
  • Buy Spotify streams: This can briefly increase an artist’s visibility by raising their stream count, which might draw in new listeners.
Remember, using bots for this can lead to a ban and harm your credibility if found out. Plus, it doesn’t assure a loyal fanbase or recoup your music investment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Platinum and Multi-Platinum?

An RIAA Platinum certification signifies that an album or single has sold one million units through physical, digital, and streaming formats. Multi-Platinum status is awarded when an album or single doubles the criteria of the Platinum certification. This continues to scale with each additional million units sold.

What song has 1 trillion streams?

No song has reached a trillion streams, but several have surpassed a billion streams on Spotify. Highest on that list are The Weeknd’s Blinding Lights (3.88 billion) and Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You (3.68 billion).

Check out Spotify’s most streamed songs list for a full rundown.

Which artists have Diamond streams?

Artists with RIAA Diamond certifications have records selling over ten million units. Among these elite ranks, Garth Brooks leads with nine Diamond-certified albums. He’s followed by The Beatles with six, Led Zeppelin with five, and Eminem, Shania Twain, Whitney Houston, and The Eagles with three each.

What are the certifications for artists outside the US?

Each country has its own organizations that handle music recording certifications. For a quick breakdown of each country’s certifications, including the name of the organization and the number of sales needed, visit this resource.

Not all countries count streaming in the certifications, so it’s best to check their website to be sure.

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