Even YOU can have a platinum album (apparently…)

by | May 22, 2019 | Commentary & Observations, Music Business, Rant

This morning, I saw a post by a southern gospel singer (who shall remain nameless) who had received a “Platinum Award,” apparently from their radio promoter “For radio and DJ downloads.” The photo depicts what appears to be a CD cover and a magazine ad for a single on a plaque with a “platinum” vinyl display, resembling the more well-known awards given out to artists by their record labels and/or the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for sales certifications.

Now, typically, when an artist is given a gold or platinum certification, it is presented by a record label in recognition for so many sales of a song or album based on official sales numbers for individual units sold as verified by a third-party sales tracking company (usually SoundScan). According to the official RIAA rules and guidelines, the minimum number for a gold certification on a full-length album is 500,000 units sold, and the minimum for a platinum album is 1,000,000 units. For a single, the minimum is 1,000,000 units sold; platinum is 2,000,000 units sold. This is indicated on the award itself, usually by saying, “in recognition for XXX units sold.”

The award pictured by this particular artist, however, did not indicate any number at all (other than a serial number, I’m guessing to the compilation disc on which the song appeared…). It wasn’t certified by the RIAA or any third-party sales, accounting, or tracking entity (or, if it was, it wasn’t indicated on the award plaque). It simply had the name of the radio promoter, a banner saying, “The Platinum Award,” and a label in the top left-hand corner saying “Platinum Disc.”

For all intents and purposes, it appears to be a generic “award” given by a promoter to entice the artist to continue using them by saying, “See? SEE? Your song went PLATINUM with us!! Stick with us, and we’ll make sure ALL your songs go PLATINUM!”

I’m sorry, but this is a participation trophy at best, and a flat out fraud at worst. Giving someone a “Platinum Award” is misleading, giving an artist an excuse to say, “I have a platinum single/album!”, when in reality, they aren’t even close. Some artists may very well be aware that such an award is not equivalent to an actual certification (at least, I would hope that’s the case!), but for those who don’t know the difference, they are given a false representation of their actual sales, leading them to misrepresent themselves as being “platinum-selling artists.”

(For the record, I’m inclined to believe that the artist mentioned above is very much aware of the actual value of their “platinum award” and is choosing to perpetuate the misrepresentation.)

Out of sheer morbid curiosity, I decided to look up this radio promoter. A quick look at their website (which appears to have been designed in 1996) reveals a plethora of small-time artists that I’ve never heard of, recordings that would make even bargain basement studios laugh, and artwork that a junior high art student would call amateur (apparently, the company handles graphic design for all of its artists). The site’s banner reads, “Send your music to radio stations disc jockeys promoters producers & at your request to friends family and fans” (lack of commas not my own).

The site also lists “honorary members” that include everyone from George Jones to Justin Bieber for some absolutely unknown reason. In actuality, the site simply copied their bios from Biography.com and slapped some Paint Shop-created images on there, calling them “honorary members;” I’m willing to bet none of these artists have any clue their likeness is even on there.

There are plenty of cautionary tales about “record companies” and “radio promoters” who will take your money, put your music on a compilation disc, and put you on their own charts so it looks like you’re getting airplay and/or sales, when in reality, you’re simply throwing money away. This particular company appears to be exactly that. Until the photo mentioned above, I’d never heard of this company, nor had I heard of nearly any of the artists they claim to promote.

Now, there are legitimate radio promotions companies who really do get airplay for their artists. Vertical Sky, Butler Music Group, Heritage Communications, and others do a wonderful job of promoting their artists, and do so professionally and reputably. Sadly, this particular company is not among one of those.

To this company (and others like it) who are simply bilking naive artists out of money, giving them fake awards, and trying to inflate their egos enough that they stay signed with them (and continue to make money from them), you are a sham. You are doing nothing to further the industry. Please just go away.

To the artists who, sadly, are taken in by companies such as this – ALWAYS be weary of a company who over-promises, especially when it comes to success in the music industry. An inflated ego is not the same as actual accomplishments.

*Some of you may ask, “If you’re linking to the company’s website, why won’t you just name the company?” In short, SEO. I don’t want to give their company name any more search result value than it might already have.

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Kyle Boreing

Kyle Boreing

Kyle has been writing for MusicScribe since 2008. He is a musician, producer, arranger, and occasional quartet singer, who pays way too much attention to recordings. He is an alumni of Stamps-Baxter School of Music and has shared the stage with many different artists. He also really likes movies that are "so bad they're good." Visit his website at kyleboreing.com, or follow him on Twitter @kyleboreing.

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