From pop star Olivia Rodrigo and country newcomers Lily Rose and Elvie Shane to rappers Pooh Shiesty and Mooski and metal band Corpse, 43 acts achieved a significant career milestone in 2021: receiving their first gold, platinum or multiplatinum certification from the Recording Industry Assn. of America.
“These awards celebrate some of the most special moments in our industry – when new voices emerge and find their place on the national stage,” RIAA CEO and chairman Mitch Glazier tells Billboard. “Music never stands still – and these dynamic breakthrough artists and the label teams supporting them are a big part of the reason why.”
A song or album reaches gold status when it achieves combined sales and/or streams of 500,000, platinum status for 1 million and multi-platinum status for 2 million or higher. For the class of 2021, only titles released in 2020 and 2021 and certified in 2021 are eligible. Last year, 53 artists earned such a designation.
Pop artist Tai Verdes, who reached gold status for his Arista singles “A-O-K” and “Stuck in the Middle,” tells Billboard, “These awards have really shown me how powerful it can be when you tell your story to your audience. After putting so much time into trying to develop my own story and my own music, the results aren’t debatable. I love how far things have come in terms of self-promotion, social media, and how much power is in the hands of the artist.”
Rapper and country artist Jelly Roll appreciates the journey that has led him to his first gold singles, “Creature” (featuring TechN9ne and Krizz Kaliko) and “Save Me,” via War Dog (he is now signed to BBR Music Group). “Growing up, I never thought I would have a gold record, and I think it’s even sweeter getting my first one over 20 years into my recorded music career,” he says. “I received the gold record for ‘Save Me’ on one of the best nights of my life in front of my hometown on stage at the Ryman Auditorium. What an incredible moment. I’ll never forget it.”
British DJ Joel Corry, who toured the U.S. for the first time this year and earned a platinum single for his Big Beat/Atlantic hit “Head & Heart” (featuring MNEK), says,“It is amazing to know that my music is crossing over and connecting. I am mind blown by the sales figures but even more satisfied to know people are enjoying my music. I find this very motivating.”
The news follows the September release of the RIAA’s half-year report that showed that recorded music revenues in the U.S. had experienced double-digit growth in the first half of 2021. Revenue grew 27% at retail over the first half of 2020 to %7.1 billion, up from $5.6 billion. Streaming accounted for 84% of all revenues.
Go here for a full list of titles achieving gold, platinum and multiplatinum status for the first time.
RIAA First-timer 2021 List
Royal & the Serpent