Music recording sales certification
Music recording sales certification is a system of certifying that a music recording has shipped or sold a certain number of copies, where the threshold quantity varies by type (such as: album, single, music video) and by nation or territory (See also: List of music recording certifications).
Almost all countries follow variations of the RIAA certification categories, which are named after precious materials.
The number of sales or shipments required for these awards depends upon the population of the territory in which the recording is released. Typically, they are awarded only to international releases and are awarded individually for each country in which the album is sold. Different sales levels, some perhaps 10 times lower than others, may exist for different music media (for example: videos versus albums, singles, or downloads).
The original gold record awards were presented to artists by their own record companies to publicize the achievement of 1,000,000 sales. The first of these was awarded by RCA to Glenn Miller in February 1942, celebrating 1,200,000 sales of "Chattanooga Choo Choo". Another example of a company award is the gold record awarded to Elvis Presley in 1956 for 1,000,000 sales of the single "Don't Be Cruel." The first gold record for an LP was awarded by RCA to Harry Belafonte in 1957 for the album Calypso (1956), the first album to sell over 1,000,000 copies. Awards were introduced at the industry level in 1958 with the RIAA's Gold Award Program. 1958 was also the year that the first classical LP went platinum, pianist Van Cliburn's RCA recording of his cold-war prize winning Tchaikovsky performance.
RIAA certification 
Several different thresholds have been in use at different times and places for both album and single awards. Some of these were based on units sold and others on the value of retail sales. The first official designation of a "gold record" by the RIAA was established for singles in 1958, and the RIAA also trademarked the term "gold record" in the United States. On March 14, 1958 the RIAA certified its first gold record, Perry Como's hit single "Catch a Falling Star". The Oklahoma! soundtrack was certified as the first gold album four months later. In 1976, RIAA introduced the platinum certification, first awarded to Johnnie Taylor's single, "Disco Lady", and to the Eagles album, Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975). As music sales increased with the introduction of compact discs, the RIAA created the Multi-Platinum award in 1984. Diamond awards, honoring those artists whose sales of singles or albums reached 10,000,000 copies, were introduced in 1999.
Like many record industry awards and rankings, the measurement is based on wholesale shipments to all types of retail outlets, and is not based on actual retail sales or financial transactions. As a result, an early award or ranking for a new release reflects only the distributor's market power expectations.
Certifications no longer apply solely to physical media. Sales awards recognizing digital downloads were created in 2004. In June 2006, the RIAA certified the ringtone downloads of songs. In total, eighty-four music artists/groups were cited as gold winners, forty as platinum, and four as multi-platinum.
IFPI certification 
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) was founded in 1996, and grants the IFPI Platinum Europe Award for album sales over one million within Europe and (as of October 2009) the Middle East. Multi-platinum Europe Awards are presented for sales in subsequent multiples of one million. Eligibility is unaffected by time (from date of release), and is not restricted to European-based artists.
Certification thresholds 
Below are certification thresholds for the United States and United Kingdom. The numbers in the tables are in terms of "units," where a unit represents one sale or one shipment of a given medium. Certification is often awarded cumulatively, and it is possible for a single album to be certified silver, gold, and platinum in turn. An album that becomes platinum twice over, for example, an album which has sold 2,000,000 copies in the United States, is said to be "double-platinum," or sometimes "multi-platinum."
For other countries, see
Manufacture of awards 
The plaques themselves contain various items under the glass. Modern awards often use CDs instead of records. Most gold and platinum records are actually vinyl records which have been vacuum metallized and tinted, while trimmed and plated metal "masters", "mothers", or "stampers" (metal parts used for pressing records out of vinyl) were initially used. Rarely does the groove on the record match the actual recording being awarded. Individual plaque-makers produced their awards according to available materials and individual techniques employed by their graphic arts departments. The plaques, depending on size and elaborateness of design, cost anywhere between US$135 and $275, most often ordered and purchased by the record label that issued the original recording.
See also 
- RIAA certification
- Lists of best-selling albums
- Lists of best-selling singles
- Recording Industry Association of America
- Release (music)
- "History of the Awards". RIAA.com. Retrieved December 11, 2008.
- "Goodbye, 2004. Hello, 2005!". Recording Industry Association of American. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
- Associated Press (June 14, 2006). "RIAA Certifies Ringtones as Gold, Platinum". FoxNews.com. Retrieved December 28, 2009.
- "IFPI Awards". International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Retrieved December 21, 2009.
- "Certification Criteria". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
- "History of the Awards". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
- "Certified Awards Search". British Recorded Music Industry. Retrieved 22 June 2012.