What does it mean when an album has gone multi-platinum?

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RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) is a group that protects the rights of songwriters and artists in the recording industry. They give out awards on a per release basis - NOT based on sales - but based on royalties paid to the performer for each individual release. The following Awards are given ONLY if the recorded songs (the format does not matter) are sold within the first year of the original recorded material's original release date.

Any record company may request an award for their artist after 1 year of release. (This is VERY common)

For Example: Your CD comes out and sells 500,000 in 6 months - it is awarded a RIAA Gold Album Status. Then, after 14 months the sales are 1,000,000 - IF YOUR RECORD COMPANY REQUESTS IT - and can prove the sales with signed (cashed) residual checks paid to the performer - it will be awarded a Platinum Status. Then after 3 years - it has sold 10,000,000 copies - again - IF YOUR RECORD COMPANY REQUESTS IT - and proves it with signed (cashed) residual checks paid to the performer - it will be awarded a Diamond Status. After 10 years it has sold 40,000,000 copies - again - IF YOUR RECORD COMPANY REQUESTS IT - and proves it with signed (cashed) residual checks paid to the performer - it is awarded Multi-Diamond Status.

All record companies stretch (lie) a little bit about sales of their performers records - and most companies use it in advertising. (They will advertise "Gold Record Artist... without the artist ever selling 500,000 copies of any album.) So a record companies SALES do not determine the RIAA Status of a record - ONLY residual checks paid to the performer determine a records RIAA status.

RIAA Awards 1958 to 1974
  • Gold Award = More than 1,000,001 sales
  • Multi-Gold Award = more than 2,000,001 sales (5x denotes +5,000,001 in sales)

RIAA Awards 1975 to Present Day:
  • Gold Award = More than 500,001 sales (There is no multi Gold Award)
  • Platinum Award = Between 1,000,001 to 1,999,999 in sales.
  • Multi-Platinum Award = Between 2,000,000 to 10,000,000 in sales. (4X Platinum denotes +4,000,000 sales)
  • Diamond Award = 10,000,001 to 20,000,000
  • Multi-Diamond Award over 20,000,001 (5X Diamond denotes +50,000,000 sales)

The Goofy part: These Awards are counting the sales of individual CD, DVD, album platters (INCLUDING downloads) - NOT a complete set of a released album. So a double CD that sells 5,000,001 COPIES - or a triple CD Set that sells 3,333,334 COPIES or a 10 CD Box Set that sells 1,000,001 sets - is a Diamond album - because they each have sold over 10,000,001 individual platters (the format NEVER matters as many are released on several different formats - ie. CD, DVD, download or even vinyl.). Only the sales proven by residual checks paid to the performer are used to determine ALL RIAA Awards.

EXTRA CREDIT: Catch A Falling Star, written by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss, and recorded by Perry Como, was the first record certified by RIAA as selling over 1 million copies, and therefore the very first Gold Record was presented to Perry Como on March, 5th 1958. It was an actual record - spray painted with a gold lacquer!! (Today they are gold plastic discs - not actual records.)

EXTRA EXTRA CREDIT:The album that has sold the most copies in American music history - as of January 1, 2010 is Michael Jackson's "Thriller" - with proven sales in excess of 67,000,000 copies - or 6x Diamond. "Thriller" was released on November 30, 1982 and the video was released December 2, 1983 - 1 year and 2 days later. (A video was not planned however with album sales over 12,000,000 within the first year, Jackson felt it necessary).

The next closest is the album "Their Greatest Hits" by Eagles released February 1976 with +35,000,000 copies sold.
NOTE: The band is and has always been called "Eagles" - NOT "The Eagles".

EXTRA EXTRA EXTRA CREDIT: "John Denver's Greatest Hits" released in November 1973 - was the first album in American music history to sell over 10,000,000 copies within the first year of release. This prompted the RIAA to reconfigure their Gold Album Award - into the Gold, Platinum and Diamond awards that we have today.

FINAL EXTRA CREDIT: The largest selling single in music history is "Goodbye England's Rose" (AKA "Candle In The Wind Diana") by Bernie Taupin and Sir Elton Hercules John - a re-recorded version of "Candle In The Wind" recorded for the funeral of Diana Spencer in August 1997. It sold over 17,000,000 copies world wide within 1 month. (After her divorce she was not to be known as "Princess" or "Lady" - Both titles reserved for the Royal Family only - of which she was no longer a part. Nor was Diana allowed to retain the royal family name of Windsor - she reverted to her maiden name of Spencer.)
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