Come 2018, Youtube might not help you go platinum as easily as you think.
Back in the day, going platinum used to be so simple. If an album sold one million physical copies, it would go platinum, no questions asked. Now, with the physical album slowly becoming an archaic piece of technology, the majority of sales tend to be counted through streams. Yet what constitutes a stream? Does a song have to be played in full, or merely surpass a pre-designated amount of playtime? And what about Youtube? Does the play have to come from an officially licensed channel in order to count? The questions are seemingly endless, and it often feels like even the music industry bigheads are improvising like a high stakes episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway.
Still, artists do manage to score platinum plaques in the digital era, but sometimes, they're marred by controversy. Take, for example, Post Malone's recent "Rockstar" woes, in which the rapper's team was met with disdain for allegedly using a Youtube loophole to boost numbers. And speaking of Youtube, it was recently announced that the streaming giant would be counting toward the Billboard charts, in an effort to better represent the current musical climate. You can read up more on that here, along with the divided reaction from the hip-hop community.
However, Billboard recently reported that Youtube streams will carry less "value" than a stream on a paid service, like Spotify, Apple, or Tidal. Check the statement from the brand themselves, which reads:
"Beginning in 2018, plays occurring on paid subscription-based services (such as Amazon Music and Apple Music) or on the paid subscription tiers of hybrid paid/ad-supported platforms (such as SoundCloud and Spotify) will be given more weight in chart calculations than those plays on pure ad-supported services (such as YouTube) or on the non-paid tiers of hybrid paid/ad-supported services."
At the end of the day, the exact nature of going platinum still remains a mystery. At least it might be more difficult for artists to take advantage of streaming loopholes in order to score that coveted platinum plaque. Otherwise, what used to be a rare milestone may turn into a new normal.