JAY-Z keeps piling on the platinum, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). His latest album, 4:44, has been certified platinum by the RIAA, reflecting 1 million equivalent album units earned in the U.S. It’s the hip-hop king’s 13th platinum-certified studio album.
One equivalent album unit, as recognized by the RIAA, is equal to: one album sale, 10 tracks sold from an album, or 1,500 on-demand audio and/or video streams from an album. The RIAA revamped its Gold & Platinum Awards Program on Feb. 1, 2016, growing from a pure album sales certification process to one that includes tracks and streams.
4:44 was released on June 30 by Roc Nation, and was initially exclusively available as a stream to existing customers of Tidal and Sprint. However, by July 2, the album was also offered as a free download — sponsored by Sprint — via the web site 444.tidal.com. Customers who wanted the download album were required to submit an email address and use the promotional code “SPRINT” in order to receive the album.
Those album downloads — which were free to the consumer but purchased by a company (Sprint) for distribution — were counted towards the platinum certification. (Roc Nation tells Billboard that the certification reflects 1 million downloads, and no streams were applied towards the certification.)
According to an RIAA spokesperson, a sale can count towards a certification if purchased directly by the customer, or a business can purchase the album or song and offer it to customers. In the latter case, customers must take affirmative steps to acquire the album or song (submitting an email address and promotional code, for example).
Note: for Billboard charting purposes, as per the current pricing policy, the Sprint-supported downloads would not count towards 4:44’s chart ranking. However, any streams reported by Tidal to Nielsen Music for the album’s songs in the week ending July 6 would contribute to the album’s ranking based solely on streaming equivalent album units.