The RIAA's requirements for gold record status have changed during the last 55 years, starting with shipments of more than 1 million units, dropping to 500,000 and then updating it to include on-demand streams, counting 100 streams as a single paid download.

Studying records that reached gold status in a single format reveals the dramatic drops in the income a gold record generates. The peak came with the CD single in terms of total revenue generated per songs, though in contemporary dollars downloads and streams continue to trail 78 rpm discs released during World War II.

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