Reconciling The RIAA Certs plus June Awards

The RIAA has announced its June 2011 certifications and Nashville artists are well represented in both album and digital download categories.

CMA Entertainer of the Year Brad Paisley, saw his latest album, This Is Country Music, cruise into Gold territory after only one month or so on the charts. According to SoundScan, Paisley has scanned about 363k units through the week ended 7/17/11 definitely short of the Gold sales mark of 500k. However, because RIAA certifications measure shipments and SoundScan measures point of sale purchases using the two systems gives one an idea of how many units have been shifted into consumer hands, and how optimistic merchants are about continuing to sell the album. In Paisley’s case one could surmise that there are about 130,000 units remaining in the supply chain. Given that the album is selling about 20k (per SoundScan) per week that equates to a six week supply.

Click image to download report

Also earning a Gold award this month is Ke$ha for her Cannibal album, (SoundScan total 141k.)

Country music fans are starting to get active in downloading digital tracks as evidenced by the four Gold digital awards earned this month by Jason Aldean (“Dirt Road Anthem”), Luke Bryan (“Country Girl (Shake It For Me)”), Kenny Chesney (“Beer In Mexico”) and Rascal Flatts (“I Won’t Let Go”). (All these digital titles are above the 500,000 mark in actual sales, too.)

Moving higher up the ladder, above the country men, was Sara Evans who got a shiny Platinum trophy for selling one million downloads of “A Little Bit Stronger.” (In fact the track has sold 1.05 million copies according to SoundScan through 7/17/11.)

Reconciling The Stats
Balancing the RIAA criteria between physical sales and digital sales is confusing. It appears that digital singles must actually reach the Gold or Platinum levels of 500k and 1,000,000 respectively. However, albums are based upon shipments. Below is some “enlightenment” from the RIAA web site…note that in No. 5 it says certifications are based upon product “Shipped.” However, how does one tally shipments of digital singles?

1. Along with minimum sales figures, a number of other criteria accompany each title for certification. The list and table below describe what titles and types of sales can be considered for the awards.

2. Each company that requests RIAA® certification must be a firm or corporation that has headquarters in the United States and is engaged in the legitimate production and sale of sound recordings.

3. Recordings become eligible for certification 30 days after initial street date. Audio and music video titles may be requested for award certification starting 30 days after product is commercially available to consumers.

4. Only domestic sales and sales to U.S. military post exchanges may be included. The requesting company must separate PX sales from other accounts on sales sheets. Export sales outside the United States are not included in certification.

5. Club sales and club free goods may be included towards certification. Product shipped to retail, mail order, record clubs, TV marketing and other ancillary markets are combined toward certified sales. All shipments to these accounts must be verified by the label.

6. Promotional radio and press copies, cut-outs, inventory sell-offs and surplus sales are not included toward certification.

7. Catalog product, specifically pre-1972 album releases, are eligible for certification by meeting either the unit shipment or manufacturer’s dollar requirement for each award level.

 

RIAA offers an interesting retrospective on the American Music Business that can be downloaded HERE.

 

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About the Author

David M. Ross has been covering Nashville's music industry for over 25 years. [email protected]

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