Kanye West’s last album has just made streaming history.
The Life of Pablo, released a little over a year ago, just went Platinum with over 1.5 billion song streams in the U.S.
While popular albums frequently go platinum, this is a big deal because Kanye’s album reached this milestone relying on streams alone – no paid downloads.
Let me explain:
An album typically goes platinum after selling 1 million copies. But last year the RIAA announced guidelines that would let streaming number contribute to an album’s certified status. They decided that 150 streams of a song would equal one song download, and 10 song downloads would equal one album download. That means an artist’s songs would have to be streamed 1,500 times for it to be counted as an album sale.
So if 1,500 streams equals one album sale, and you multiply that by the 1 million album sales needed to go platinum, you get a minimum requirement of 1.5 billion steams needing to get an album certified platinum.
Normally an album would go platinum via a combination of streamed songs and paid downloads – so the album wouldn’t actually have to be streamed 1.5 billion times before reaching the milestone. But Kanye never made The Life of Pablo available for sale on platforms like iTunes, instead limiting it originally to Tidal before expanding to other streaming-only platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.
While Kanye did make the album available for purchase and download on his own site, that accounted for less than one percent of first week units, and the album met platinum conditions without considering those sales.