Imitation platinum: RIAA’s policy change is some ol’ garbage


The 21st century is something else.

Brothers, can’t grow a beard? It’s cool, just glue a beard weave to your jaw. Want to impress people you’ve never met by pretending your life is way more awesome than it is? Instagram can make all your shallow fantasies come true.

Oh, and you want to call yourself a platinum-selling artist? Thanks to new rules from the Recording Industry of America Association, you can still be considered a million-selling artist even though fans only purchased 460 measly copies of your new album in the U.S.

Ask Rihanna.

What a time to be a lie.

RIAA recently adjusted the way it accounts for the number of singles and albums that are streamed digitally — a much-needed change in this world of digital media. Under the new math, 1,500 streams are equal to 10 single sales, or one full album sale.

Like Cam Newton’s pants, what seems to be a cool idea in theory just doesn’t fit right.

Take Rihanna’s new album, Anti, for instance.

As part of a deal with Samsung, 1 million fans received the album free via Tidal. Emphasis on free. The streaming service also said it sold roughly 485,000 in downloads (worldwide) and more than 5 million fans streamed it online.

Apparently that was good enough for RIAA, which dubbed this album a platinum hit — even though 1 million people didn’t actually buy the album.

In the words of Tidal’s boss man, we don’t believe you/you need more people.

As I mentioned earlier, in this day and age, where physical copies of albums are going the way of the dinosaur and Craig Mack, digital sales need to be properly recognized in gold/platinum/diamond certifications. But RIAA’s glorified cheat codes only open the door for more back-door shenanigans.

Remember Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail? Jay sold 1 million copies of the album to Samsung for $5 million so the company could release it free through an app. Next thing you know, Jay stans are running around saying that his album when platinum in a day.

Yeah, cuz the company he was working with bought a million copies.

Hmmm, isn’t it weird how this fuzzy math keeps coming back to Samsung, Jay and Tidal?

jay tea

Yes, I know record labels have been purchasing and doling out copies of albums for years. That ain’t new. But RIAA’s latest loophole is basically begging labels to buy tons of albums for “giveaways” and other “incentives” to pad numbers and artificially build a stable of “platinum selling” artists.

Just wait till Drake becomes a diamond-selling artist 2 weeks after his next album “streams.”

Thankfully, some artists would rather gain platinum status the old fashioned way — you know, convincing fans to actually BUY their music — than play the numbers game. Anthony Tiffith, CEO of Kendrick Lamar’s Top Dawg Entertainment label ain’t here for the Houdini tricks.

Yet another reason why Kendrick’s team is the realest in the game.

I’m sure the Rih Rih stans reading this — those who haven’t already abandoned this post to camp out in my Twitter mentions like Black Friday at Best Buy — will defend RIAA’s actions by saying “artists can’t be expected to sell millions of albums in 2016 like they did in 1996” and that rules have to change to fit the times. I mean, NO ONE is selling albums anymore! Right?


Hello? It’s me.

In the United States, Adele’s latest album 25 sold 2.3 million in three days, becoming the fastest-selling album of the 21st century. Yes, I know it’s unfair to compare Adele and her massive marketing push to other artists (and I won’t even entertain the ignorant “Adele is stealing black music” argument K. Michelle n’ dem are selling you — don’t worry, I already put that nonsense to rest in this post right here). Still, the fact remains — good music CAN sell in 2016 without the magic tricks.

I’m not saying we should christen Anti a complete flop. It’s much too early for that — it’s barely been out a week. Billboard and Neilsen have recognized that the album has 4.2 million streams but less than 500 copies sold in the U.S. so far. Keep in mind those numbers are so low because the album wasn’t officially sold until late last Thursday, after the Samsung deal ended.

But on the other hand, the album didn’t have a decent single and is pretty meh overall — don’t forget that part. But there’s still time for Rihanna’s fans to catch her up by actually buying the thing.

Unless y’all are too sophisticated to put your money where your mouth is and support your favorite artist’s music — you know, the real way to go platinum.



  1. I feel like “Anti” fans aren’t the type to buy physical or digital albums. I predict a huge letdown when the final first week sales totals come out.

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