The Certification Process
The process begins with an independent sales audit of each title by Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman, an accounting firm that has audited titles for the RIAA® for more than 30 years.
The audit calculates what product has been shipped for sale, net after returns, versus product used for promotional purposes, for the life of the release. When certifying audio and music video releases, the independent auditor is careful to survey the entire music marketplace. An artist's Gold® or Platinum® award represents sales through retail, record clubs, rack jobbers, and all other ancillary markets that legitimately distribute recorded music. Once a title’s sales has been audited and verified as having reached requisite levels, a formal certification report is issued and sent to the title's music label.
We are often asked why we don’t just use sales figures from SoundScan. SoundScan measures over-the-counter sales at music retail locations, while the RIAA®'s certification levels are based on unit shipments (minus returns) from manufacturers to a wide range of accounts, including non-retail record clubs, mail order houses, specialty stores, units shipped for Internet fulfillment or direct marketing sales, such as TV-advertised albums. Another difference is that SoundScan's archive only begins in 1991, while the RIAA has tracked artists' sales levels for 55 years.
The RIAA® certification program is open to member and non-member companies. RIAA® certification entitles the authorized record label to purchase official RIAA® award plaques bearing the trademarked RIAA® hologram seal from licensed plaque manufacturers.
All certification audits are conducted for a fee. If multiple sales levels are simultaneously certified, only one audit certification fee is charged. Companies requesting their initial certification audit must incur any travel expenses by the RIAA®'s independent auditor. The charge for certifications is $350 for RIAA® member companies. Non-members are charged $450 per certification, which must be pre-paid. Companies will be charged the full audit certification fee for any requests that do not meet the Gold® and Platinum® Program requirements.
A 30-day time limit is set for pending certifications. If a full audit cannot be completed within this time, a charge of $100 will be rendered to member companies and $200 to non-member companies.
Requests for audio and music video certification may be made to the RIAA®. Companies must submit one copy of the audio or music video product upon certification request. All versions of the title's catalog must be represented.
The following information must also be made available:
Configuration (single, shortform, album or music video)
Level (Gold®, Platinum® and/or Multi-Platinum™)
Selection or Catalog Number
Billing Contact & Address
Please send certification requests by email to:
(202) 775-0101 phone