Gold and Platinum Music Awards
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “that record went Platinum”. A few notable albums come to mind, Thriller, Back is Black, and The Dark Side of the Moon, to name a few. The Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA) historic Gold® & Platinum® Program honors artists and track sound recording sales with Gold & Platinum Awards. These awards have come to stand as a benchmark of success for any artist—whether they’ve just released their first song or Greatest Hits album. These awards represent huge sales — 500,000 albums for gold, 1 million for platinum, 2 million or more for multiplatinum. (Singles have lower benchmarks; you’ve gone platinum if you sell just 500,000.)
You’ve probably seen these awards, gold or platinum records.
If you’re like me, you wonder, are those solid gold or platinum? Although these awards match the success of say, an Oscar, they aren’t quite as valuable for their gold or platinum. These awards, which cost about $100, are neither gold nor platinum, but colored plastic. And they’re almost never made from actual copies of the best-selling products they honor. Usually the records, cassettes, and CDs on the plaques don’t even contain music. Anyone who tries to play them will hear only a hiss.
According to Billboard.com, “The look of the award plaques has evolved, too. Before 1964, the record was mounted on a plaque of walnut wood; from 1964-75, a white matte served as the background; from 1975-81, the matte became black (awards from this period are known as “floaters”); after 1981, changes were made to the presentation plate which indicates who the award is for; and starting in 1985, the plate comes with an official RIAA hologram — which itself has changed over the years — attached.”
What’s truly valuable, about these awards, is it as a collector item. The value of these awards is significantly driven by fan interest. Jim Greenwood –the founder and former CEO of Licorice Pizza, a chain of record stores in the Los Angeles believes, are purchased by fans who want a piece of their favorite group’s history. “Foo Fighters, Mariah Carey, or Staind have a more popular following,” he explains. “There’s a curve shift where there are more people collecting those, so the Foo Fighters get more valuable.” But for Greenwood and other hardcore collectors, the primary motivations for purchasing a plaque are more historical than anything else: while the awards represent a celebration of market success, they can also offer a rare glimpse of the crucial behind-the-scenes players in the music industry.
The latest artists to reach Platinum status this year are Drake, Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake amongst others. Let’s share in congratulating these platinum artists.
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