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RIAA certification

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Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) seal that appears on award plaques

In the United States, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) operates an awards program based on the certified number of albums and singles sold through retail and other ancillary markets.[1] Other countries have similar awards (see music recording certification). Certification is not automatic; for an award to be made, the record label must first request certification.[2] The audit is conducted against net shipments after returns (most often an artist's royalty statement is used), which includes albums sold directly to retailers and one-stops, direct-to-consumer sales (music clubs and mail order) and other outlets.

Description and qualifications[edit]

RIAA certifications for Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Madonna and Lynyrd Skynyrd on display at Julien's Auctions.

A Gold record is a song or album that sells 500,000 units (records, tapes, and compact discs). The award was launched in 1958;[3] originally, the requirement for a Gold single was one million units sold and a Gold album represented $1 million in sales (at wholesale value, around a third of the list price).[4] In 1975, the additional requirement of 500,000 units sold was added for Gold albums.[4] Reflecting growth in record sales, the Platinum award was added in 1976, for albums that sold one million units and for singles selling two million units.[4][5] The Multi-Platinum award was introduced in 1984, signifying multiple Platinum levels of albums and singles.[6] In 1989, the sales thresholds for singles were reduced to 500,000 for Gold and 1,000,000 for Platinum, reflecting a decrease in sales of singles.[7] In 1992, RIAA began counting each disc in a multi-disc set as one unit toward certification. Reflecting additional growth in music sales, the Diamond award was instituted in 1999 for albums or singles selling ten million units.[3] Because of these changes in criteria, the sales level associated with a particular award depends on when the award was made.

Nielsen SoundScan figures are not used in RIAA certification; the RIAA system predates Nielsen SoundScan and includes sales outlets Nielsen misses.[citation needed] Prior to Nielsen SoundScan, RIAA certification was the only audited and verifiable system for tracking music sales in the U.S.; it is still the only system capable of tracking 100% of sales (albeit as shipments less returns, not actual sales like Nielsen SoundScan).[citation needed] This system has permitted, at times, record labels to promote an album as Gold or Platinum simply based on large shipments. For instance, in 1978 the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band soundtrack shipped Platinum but was a sales bust, with two million returns.[8] Similarly, all four solo albums by the members of Kiss simultaneously shipped Platinum that same year but did not reach the top 20 of the Billboard 200 album chart.[9] The following year, the RIAA began requiring 120 days from the release date before recordings were eligible for certification, although that requirement has been reduced over the years and currently stands at 30 days. Upon criticism on why the RIAA won't adapt SoundScan as its source, Hilary Rosen, president of the recording association, defended their system: “We think the certification process represents an accurate sales picture and we’re comfortable with the numbers we release.” [10]

In the digital era, changes in the way music is consumed resulted in changes in the certification criteria. Actual album sales had dropped significantly, while digital download followed by streaming became increasingly dominant. On-demand audio and video streams started to be counted towards Digital Single units consumed in 2013.[11][12] Track downloads and audio and video streams were then included in album certification in 2016 using formulas converting downloads and streams into the album units for certification purpose.[13]

List of certifications[edit]


  • 500,000 units: Gold album
  • 1,000,000 units: Platinum album
  • 2,000,000+ (in increments of 1,000,000 thereafter) units: Multi-Platinum album
  • 10,000,000 units: Diamond album

Starting from February 1, 2016, each album unit may be one of the following:[13][14]

  1. Each permanent digital album or physical album sale;
  2. 10 tracks from the album downloaded;
  3. 1,500 on-demand audio or video streams of songs from the album.


Multi-disc albums are counted once for each disc within the album if it is over 100 minutes in length or is from the vinyl era. For example, the Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (running time of 121:39) and OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (running time of 134:56), both double albums, were counted twice, meaning each album was certified diamond after 5 million copies were shipped. Pink Floyd's The Wall and the Beatles' White Album, both vinyl-era, are also counted as double even though their running times are under the minimum requirement. Rules may or may not apply depending on most recent staff within the Distributions position.


Since 2000, the RIAA also awards Los Premios de Oro y De Platino (Gold and Platinum Awards in Spanish) to Latin albums, which are defined by the RIAA as a type of product that features at least 51% of content in Spanish.[15]

List of certifications, showing name and units required[16][17]
Certification Units required
(as of December 20, 2013)
Units required
(before December 20, 2013)
Disco de Oro 30,000 50,000
Disco de Platino 60,000 100,000
Disco de Multi-Platino 120,000 200,000
Disco de Diamante 600,000 1,000,000

Note: The number of sales required to qualify for Oro and Platino awards was higher prior to January 1, 2008.[16] The thresholds were 100,000 units (Oro) and 200,000 units (Platino). All Spanish-language albums certified prior to 2008 were updated to match the current certification at the time.[16][18] "La Bomba" by Bolivian group Azul Azul is the only single to receive a Latin certification based on shipments before the creation of the Latin digital singles awards in 2013.[19] The Disco de Diamante award was introduced after the RIAA updated the thresholds for Latin certifications on December 20, 2013. The Disco de Diamante is awarded to Latin albums that have been certified 10× Platinum.[20][21]


Standard singles are certified:

  • Gold when it ships 500,000 copies
  • Platinum when it ships 1,000,000 copies
  • Multi-Platinum when it ships at least 2,000,000 copies

Note: The number of sales required to qualify for Gold and Platinum discs was higher prior to January 1, 1989. The thresholds were previously 1,000,000 units (Gold) and 2,000,000 units (Platinum).[22]

Digital singles are certified:

  • Gold means 500,000 certification units
  • Platinum means 1,000,000 certification units
  • Multi-Platinum means 2,000,000+ certification units

From 2004 through July 2006, the certification level was 100,000 downloads for Gold and 200,000 for Platinum. When the RIAA changed the certification standards to match retail distribution in August 2006, all Platinum and Multi-Platinum awards for a digital release were withdrawn. Gold certifications, however, were not, meaning a song that was downloaded over 100,000 times and certified so by the RIAA during that time frame retains its Gold status.[23]

Starting May 9, 2013, RIAA certifications for singles in the "digital" category include on-demand audio and/or video song streams in addition to downloads at a rate of 100 streams=1 certification "unit".[11][24] On January 2, 2016, this rate was updated to 150 streams = 1 certification unit.[12]

Latin digital singles are certified:

  • Disco de Oro (Gold) means 30,000 certification units
  • Disco de Platino (Platinum) means 60,000 certification units
  • Disco de Multi-Platino (Multi-Platinum) means 120,000+ certification units

The Latin Digital Single Awards began on December 20, 2013. As with the digital sales, 100 streams count as one download sale.[17]

Video Longform[edit]

Along with albums, digital albums, and singles there is another classification of music release called "Video Longform." This release format includes DVD and VHS releases, and certain live albums and compilation albums. The certification criteria are slightly different from other styles.[25][26]

  • Gold: 50,000 copies
  • Platinum: 100,000 copies
  • Multi-Platinum: 200,000 copies

Video Single[edit]

For Video Single certification, the title must contain no more than two songs and must have a running time of no more than 15 minutes. The certification criteria are:[26]

  • Gold: 25,000 copies
  • Platinum: 50,000 copies
  • Multi-Platinum: 100,000 copies

As of 2021, the titles certified the most Video Single awards are "Here Without You" by 3 Doors Down and Elvis Presley's "A Little Less Conversation", both winning 6× Platinum for 300,000 copies.[27] Since 2010, only 5 titles have been certified Video Single. The latest Gold was awarded to "R40" by Rush in 2017.[28]

Video Box Set[edit]

The Video Box Set (or Multi-Box Music Video Set) award is a classification for video compilations that include three or more videos that are grouped and marketed together as a set. Like Video Longform, this includes DVD and VHS releases and the certification criteria are the same. Each individual video within set is counted as one toward certification.[26]

  • Gold: 50,000 copies
  • Platinum: 100,000 copies
  • Multi-Platinum: 200,000 copies

The best-selling video box set as certified by the RIAA is the Rolling Stones' Four Flicks DVD compilation from their Licks World Tour, with a 19× Multi-Platinum designation. This was likely achieved due to exclusive distribution rights owned by retailer Best Buy by their short-lived music production company, Redline Entertainment.[29][30]

Master Ringtone[edit]

Master Ringtone (mastertone) awards were introduced in 2006.[31] Certification levels are identical to those of singles, 500,000 for Gold and 1,000,000 for Platinum and Multi-Platinum.

Many Master Ringtone certifications were awarded until 2009, but since then only ten certifications were awarded in 2010, three in 2012 and three in 2019, all three to AC/DC.[32]


Lists from RIAA site showing current status holders of RIAA Certifications:

Artists with the most album certifications[edit]

Most Platinum[edit]

Elvis Presley is the artist with the most platinum albums.

This list show the artists with at least 10 platinum albums (excluding compilations).

Artist #
Elvis Presley 30
George Strait 24
The Beatles 19
The Rolling Stones 18
Barbra Streisand 17
Elton John 16
Reba McEntire 15
Alabama 15
Luther Vandross 15
AC/DC 14
Rush 14
Kenny Rogers 14
Rod Stewart 13
Jay Z 13
Bruce Springsteen 13
Chicago 13
U2 12
Alan Jackson 12
Prince 12
Mariah Carey 12
Garth Brooks 11
Aerosmith 11
Bob Dylan 11
Billy Joel 11
James Taylor 11
Willie Nelson 11
Linda Ronstadt 11
Kenny Chesney 11
Madonna 10
Neil Diamond 10
Celine Dion 10
John Mellencamp 10
Metallica 10
Van Halen 10
Eminem 10
Taylor Swift 10

Most Diamond[edit]

Garth Brooks is the artist with the most diamond albums.

This table tracks artists with at least two Diamond certified albums.

Artist #
Garth Brooks 9
The Beatles 6
Led Zeppelin 5
Eminem 3
Shania Twain
Whitney Houston
The Eagles
2Pac 2
Billy Joel
Britney Spears
Celine Dion
Def Leppard
Mariah Carey
Michael Jackson
Pink Floyd
The Chicks
Van Halen

Artists with the most single certifications[edit]

Most Platinum[edit]

Drake is the artist with the most platinum singles.

This table tracks artists with some number of singles that have received at least 20 digital platinum certifications (excluding features).

Artist #
Drake 80
Kanye West 51
Taylor Swift 49
Post Malone 45
Rihanna 45
Eminem 41
Beyoncé 40
Morgan Wallen 39
The Weeknd 39
Chris Brown 37
Future 37
The Weeknd 37
Justin Bieber 34
Juice Wrld 33
J. Cole 32
Lil Wayne 32
YoungBoy Never Broke Again 32
Ariana Grande 31
Lil Baby 29
Luke Bryan 28
Elvis Presley 27
Blake Shelton 26
Usher 26
Maroon 5 25
Carrie Underwood 25
Mariah Carey 25
Kendrick Lamar 25
Katy Perry 24
Twenty One Pilots 24
SZA 23
Britney Spears 23
Ed Sheeran 22
Tim McGraw 22
Billie Eilish 21
Imagine Dragons 21
Michael Jackson 21
XXXTentacion 21
Eric Church 21
Panic At The Disco 21
A Boogie 21
Trippie Redd 21
Lady Gaga 20
Jason Aldean 20
Whitney Houston 20
Lil Uzi Vert 20
Ludacris 20

Most Diamond[edit]

Post Malone is the artist with the most diamond singles.

This table tracks artists with some number of singles that have received at least 2 Diamond certifications.

Artist #
Post Malone 9
Rihanna 7
The Weeknd
Drake 6
Bruno Mars
Katy Perry 4
Imagine Dragons
Justin Bieber
The Chainsmokers 3
Ed Sheeran
Cardi B
Maroon 5
Lady Gaga
Ludacris 2
Swae Lee
Florida Georgia Line
Nicki Minaj
Kanye West
Michael Jackson
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Twenty One Pilots
Pharrell Williams

^Post Malone currently has 9 Diamond Certified singles, but 10 Diamond Certifications. “Sunflower” by Post Malone ft. Swae Lee is the first and only double-Diamond Certified single with 20 million units sold.

Note: The RIAA provides the Detailed List of Artists with Most Singles Certified Units

RIAA Diamond certifications[edit]

See also: a comprehensive list of certified works with Diamond status at RIAA's website.


Highest certified Diamond albums
Year of release Artist(s) Title Certification Year of certification
1976 Eagles Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) 38× Platinum 2018
1982 Michael Jackson Thriller 34× Platinum 2021
1976 Eagles Hotel California 26× Platinum 2018
1980 AC/DC Back in Black 25× Platinum 2019
1971 Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin IV 24× Platinum 2021
1968 The Beatles The Beatles 24× Platinum 2019
1985 Billy Joel Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II 23× Platinum 2011
1998 Garth Brooks Double Live 23× Platinum 2023
1979 Pink Floyd The Wall 23× Platinum 1999
1977 Fleetwood Mac Rumours 21× Platinum 2023
1994 Hootie & the Blowfish Cracked Rear View 21× Platinum 2018
1997 Shania Twain Come On Over 20× Platinum 2004


Highest certified Diamond singles (digital)
Year of release Artist(s) Title Certification Year of certification
2018 Post Malone & Swae Lee "Sunflower (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse)" 20× Platinum 2024
1981 Journey "Don't Stop Believin'" 18× Platinum 2024
2019 Lil Nas X "Old Town Road" (Featuring Billy Ray Cyrus) 17× Platinum 2022
2018 Drake "God's Plan" 16× Platinum 2023
2014 Ed Sheeran "Thinking Out Loud" 16× Platinum 2023
2012 Imagine Dragons "Radioactive" 16× Platinum 2023
2016 The Chainsmokers "Closer" (Featuring Halsey) 15× Platinum 2022
Highest certified singles (physical)
Year of release Artist(s) Title Certification Year of certification
1997 Elton John "Candle in the Wind 1997" 11× Platinum 1997
1956 Elvis Presley "Hound Dog" / "Don't Be Cruel" 4× Platinum 1999
1992 Whitney Houston "I Will Always Love You" 4× Platinum 1992
1992 Los del Río "Macarena" 4× Platinum 1996
1968 The Beatles "Hey Jude" 4× Platinum 1999
1993 Tag Team "Whoomp! (There It Is)" 4× Platinum 1999
1993 Bryan Adams "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" 3× Platinum 1991

RIAA Diamante Latin certifications[edit]

See also: a comprehensive list of certified works with Latin Diamond status at RIAA's website.

Albums (Latin)[edit]

Highest certified Latin albums
Year of release Artist(s) Title Certification Standard certification Year of certification
1995 Selena Dreaming of You 59× Platinum (Latin) 3× Platinum 2017
1994 Selena Amor Prohibido 36× Platinum (Latin) 2× Platinum 2017
2014 Romeo Santos Formula, Vol. 2 31× Platinum (Latin) N/A 2024
2017 Ozuna Odisea 28× Platinum (Latin) N/A 2022
2020 Bad Bunny YHLQMDLG 24× Platinum (Latin) N/A 2021
2019 Luis Fonsi Vida 22× Platinum (Latin) N/A 2019
2004 Juanes Mi Sangre 18× Platinum (Latin) N/A 2019
2002 Juanes Un Día Normal 18× Platinum (Latin) N/A 2022
2002 Selena Ones 18× Platinum (Latin) Gold 2017
1993 Gloria Estefan Mi Tierra 16× Platinum (Latin) Platinum 2000
2006 Maná Amar es Combatir 16× Platinum (Latin) Gold 2023
2011 Romeo Santos Formula, Vol. 1 15× Platinum (Latin) N/A 2022

Singles (Latin)[edit]

Highest certified Latin singles
Year of release Artist(s) Title Certification Year of certification
2018 Nio García, Casper Mágico, Bad Bunny, Ozuna, Darell & Nicky Jam "Te Boté (Remix)" 71× Platinum (Latin)
10× Diamante
2019 Jhayco, Bad Bunny, J Balvin "No Me Conoce" (Remix) 9× Diamond (Latin) 2024
2017 J Balvin & Willy William "Mi Gente" (Featuring Beyoncé) 68× Platinum (Latin) 2018
2013 Romeo Santos "Propuesta Indecente" 65× Platinum (Latin)
2× Diamante
2017 Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee "Despacito" 55× Platinum (Latin)
13× Platinum
2021 Farruko "Pepas" 52× Platinum (Latin) 2023
2017 Becky G & Bad Bunny "Mayores" 46× Platinum (Latin) 2021
2017 Maluma "Felices los 4" 44× Platinum (Latin) 2021
2018 Daddy Yankee "Dura" 43× Platinum (Latin) 2020
2019 Sech & Darell "Otro Trago" 42× Platinum (Latin)
2019 Daddy Yankee "Con Calma" (Featuring Snow) 41× Platinum (Latin)
2019 Karol G & Nicki Minaj "Tusa" 41× Platinum (Latin)
2014 Romeo Santos "Eres Mía" 39× Platinum (Latin)
2018 Becky G & Natti Natasha "Sin Pijama" 38× Platinum (Latin)
2018 DJ Luian, Mambo Kingz, Ozuna, Bad Bunny, Wisin & Almighty "Solita" 38× Platinum (Latin) 2023
2022 Karol G "Provenza" 36× Platinum (Latin) 2023
2018 Nicky Jam & J Balvin "X" 35× Platinum (Latin) 2019
2011 Romeo Santos "Promise" (Featuring Usher) 34× Platinum (Latin)
2014 Romeo Santos "Odio" (Featuring Drake) 34× Platinum (Latin)
2005 Shakira "La Tortura" 32× Platinum (Latin)
3× Diamante
2013 Prince Royce "Darte un Beso" 31× Platinum (Latin) 2021

See also[edit]


  1. ^ RIAA certification criteria. Retrieved on September 11, 2006
  2. ^ "Apply - RIAA". RIAA.com. Retrieved 2016-01-23.
  3. ^ a b "History Of The Awards". RIAA.com. Archived from the original on July 1, 2007.
  4. ^ a b c White, Adam (1990). The Billboard Book of Gold & Platinum Records. Billboard Books. p. viii. ISBN 978-0-7119-2196-2.
  5. ^ Grein, Paul (November 30, 2012). "Chart Watch Extra: Where "Thriller" Ranks". Chart Watch. Yahoo Music. Retrieved December 5, 2012.
  6. ^ Michael Campbell; James Brody (2008). Rock and Roll: An Introduction (2nd ed.). Thomson Schirmer. p. 308. ISBN 978-1-111-79453-8.
  7. ^ White, Adam (1990). The Billboard Book of Gold & Platinum Records. Billboard Books. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-7119-2196-2.
  8. ^ Hollie, Pamela, "Record Industry: Big Changes". The New York Times, January 12, 1980, p. 27
  9. ^ Lendt, C.K. (1997). Kiss and Sell: The Making of a Supergroup. p. 95.
  10. ^ Philips, Chuck (January 15, 1995). "Sold, Shipped, What's the Diff?: About 2 million albums, in the case of 'The Lion King,' pointing up the disparity between industry's sales tally and SoundScan's". Los Angeles Times. p. 67. Retrieved June 24, 2012.
  11. ^ a b "RIAA Adds Digital Streams To Historic Gold & Platinum Awards". Recording Industry Association of America. May 9, 2013. Archived from the original on October 19, 2014. Retrieved May 9, 2013.
  12. ^ a b "RIAA and GR&F Certification Audit Requirements: RIAA Digital Single Award" (PDF). Recording Industry Association of America. January 2, 2016.
  13. ^ a b "RIAA Debuts Album Award With Streams". RIAA. February 1, 2016.
  14. ^ "RIAA and GR&F Certification Audit Requirements RIAA Album Award" (PDF). Recording Industry Association of America.
  15. ^ "About". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  16. ^ a b c Lamy, Jonathon (February 14, 2008). "Country Takes The Crop". RIAA. Archived from the original on November 2, 2013. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  17. ^ a b "RIAA Updates Latin Gold & Platinum Program". RIAA. December 20, 2013. Archived from the original on October 8, 2016. Retrieved November 14, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  18. ^ "RIAA Launches 'Los Premios de Oro y De Platino' to Recognize Top Latin Artists" (Press release). RIAA. January 25, 2000. Archived from the original on July 15, 2011. Retrieved February 15, 2011.
  19. ^ Cobo, Leila (August 18, 2001). "Latin Notas". Billboard. Vol. 113, no. 33. Prometheus Global Media. p. 32. Retrieved April 11, 2014.
  20. ^ "Diamante Awards". RIAA. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  21. ^ "History of the Awards". RIAA. Archived from the original on July 1, 2007. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
  22. ^ Grein, Paul (May 14, 1989). "New Golden Rule: 500,000 Sales Mark for All Singles". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 November 2010.
  23. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2009). Top Pop Singles 1955-2008 (12th ed.). p. 14. ISBN 978-0-89820-180-2.
  24. ^ "NEW "COMBINED" DIGITAL SINGLE AWARD". Recording Industry Association of America. May 9, 2013. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
  25. ^ "Billboard.com Latest Video Longform Certifications". Billboard. Archived from the original on May 19, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-14.{{cite magazine}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link) Retrieved on May 14, 2008
  26. ^ a b c "About the Awards - RIAA". RIAA. Retrieved 2018-08-16.
  27. ^ "Gold & Platinum – Video Single". RIAA. Archived from the original on 2021-06-18. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  28. ^ "Gold & Platinum – Video Single by date". RIAA. Archived from the original on 2021-06-18. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  29. ^ Inc, Nielsen Business Media (2003-10-18). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. {{cite book}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  30. ^ "Gold & Platinum - RIAA". RIAA. Retrieved 2018-08-16.
  31. ^ Horaczek, S. (June 18, 2006). "RIAA establishes Master Ringtone Sales Award". Engadget. Retrieved 6 September 2021.
  32. ^ "Gold & Platinum - Mastertone". RIAA. Retrieved 6 September 2021.

External links[edit]