Certifications still exist in 2019.
In order for an organisation to exist they need to find something relevant.
The RIAA is a lobby group for the record labels, and a trophy giver to artists. These little trophies, like a gold certification for 500,000 albums sold in the U.S. used to be a little bit easier to calculate when sales was the only metric used.
But when digital downloads and streaming started to take over, for right or wrong reasons, the RIAA and its sister like companies in other parts of the world, got all creative in their counting.
Suddenly, a thousand odd of streams is an album sale or 12 tracks downloaded is an album sale. Artists then would offer their albums with ticket bundles and if the fan clicked on the download link, that counted as a sale. Or artists would offer their albums with clothing sales and again, if the fan clicked on the download link, that would count as a sale.
For right or wrong reasons, certain artists and their backers are looking for bragging rights.
So what does a certification tell the world?
I was trolling through the recent certification awards on the RIAA website and I saw a lot of artists who I have never heard off, get a lot of single song certifications, so my assumption here is that these songs are streaming like crazy. And a check on Spotify confirmed that.
But two certifications got me interested because I used to cover these songs in bands. KANSAS got a triple platinum certification for “Dust In The Wind” and a 4x Platinum certification for “Carry On My Wayward Son”.
Now imagine that.
Song’s released in the 70’s are getting cherry picked by fans and listened to over and over and over again on streaming platforms. And you can’t say that the songs are part of a ticket or clothing bundle.
Here are the facts;
- “Dust In The Wind” was released in January, 1978 and it got no certifications whatsoever back then, nor in the years after.
- And the record labels have a habit of not spending money to promote old songs if they don’t make money, so those songs become forgotten.
- It wasn’t until digital services like iTunes offered up the track that it got a Gold certification in December, 2005.
- And 14 years after that and almost 9 years since streaming commenced, the track went from Gold to Platinum to 2x Platinum and now 3x Platinum.
- “Carry On My Wayward Son”, released in November 1976, got its Gold certification in December 1990 and in November 2019, it got platinum x1, x2, x3 and x4 certification.
- “Dust In The Wind” has 231,083,018 streams and “Carry On My Wayward Son” has a combined count of approx. 270,000,000 streams on Spotify.
- On YouTube, the official video and audio of “Dust In The Wind” have a combined count of 300 million views and “Carry On My Wayward Son” has close to 160 million views of the official video and audio.
- Plus you have the user uploads when all combined add up to a lot of million views.
And it’s a long journey for a song and an artist.
Debates can be had on sales and certifications but what I find impressive when I see theses kind of things is how artists are still relevant even when they are out of the mainstream press. It’s like the saying goes, you can’t keep a good song down
And it pisses me off how record label reps had so much control to kill an artists career once upon a time, even though the music from the artists always had an audience for their music.