(Azalea might yell at me for this but this is the best example i can use. so shut up. the sales and certifications are all usa based, since those are the only charts that matter. and no, that's not being rude, that's the truth.) late january, rihanna released her eighth album "anti." it is now 2x platinum with a single that spent 9 weeks at #1. so how much did the album sell? clearly it has to be 2,000,000 copies, since it's 2x platinum. it's stalled at 400k. samsung bought one million copies of her album, and rihanna shared the download link on tidal for one million people to get for free. RIAA didn't give a damn and let her get her platinum certification. months later, although she hadn't even scanned gold, her streams were enough for her to get another certification, making it 2x platinum. however, the album actually sold 400,000 copies. this is kind of annoying. part of RIAA's job is to hand out certifications to albums that reach certain milestones: 500,000 sales - Gold 1,000,000 sales - Platinum 2,000,000+ sales - Multi-Platinum (2x, 3x, etc) 10,000,000 sales - Diamond except they don't just give these out. artists have to buy them. some artists (like beyoncé's annoying self) will update their certifications like twice, then slowly stop giving a fuck and leave them alone, even if they may technically have a diamond album. others constantly update them when they get a chance. point is, an artist can't get the certification unless they pay for them. this worked out well at first. artists actually sold albums, then paid for their certification. riaa's happy, artist is happy, everyone's happy. then i dunno what happened. streaming? more illegal downloads? but now artists barely sell a damn thing. fewer people started buying certificates, not because they didn't want them, but because they didn't meet the sales requirements. these days it's rare an album actually gets one million pure sales. of course riaa couldn't let these people stop buying from them, so they decided to let streaming count toward sales. immediately a bunch of albums were being certified gold, platinum, multi platinum, etc. an album that sold 600k can get a certificate that says it sold one million, and rihanna's album that's not gonna go anywhere anytime soon can claim to be 2x platinum when it kinda isn't. but i'm not saying riaa is at fault. they really couldn't do anything else. these artists aren't selling. zayn malik's album has only sold 200k since march. 5sos and ariana grande are the same (although ariana's came out late may, so it may be too early to judge). nicki minaj and iggy azalea both sold 600k but have "platinum" albums. point is, folks aren't selling albums like they used to. and since they aren't selling, they can't buy from riaa, and riaa makes less money. basically, no one's happy anymore. so with riaa adjusting their rules, they still get their money, and artists feel a bit better about themselves. it's not like this is a bad thing. it's weird to me, but it shows the industry is changing. hell, some artists don't even follow these rules. kendrick lamar refused to certify his album til it actually sold one million. bey's album went platinum in sps (sales plus streaming) but she waited until it was platinum in pure sales before she bought the certification. still, streaming is actually important now, not just with riaa but with billboard charts as well (which i'll probably talk about in another thread). 2016, friends.