The popularity of the Gold & Platinum awards has made them valuable collectibles and their manufacturing has evolved into a specialized field. For the past 10 years, in order to curb potential fraud and abuse the RIAA has enlisted licensed framers, giving them the exclusive right to prepare awards. An RIAA-certified title permits a record company to purchase from these licensed frame shops the official RIAA awards bearing the specialized holographic seal. The style of the RIAA awards has a history of its own:
"White Matte" (1964-1975)
The plaques were an off-white linen material displayed in an unpainted, finished wood frame. The dedication on the plate was engraved with an etched RIAA seal and a mini-cover of the LP was mounted separately from the plate.
The award background was usually black matte enclosed in a wood frame painted either gold or white. The disc and plate appeared to "float" between the background and a layer of Plexiglas. The mini-cover of the LP was mounted separately from the presentation plate.
The award background was dark. Unlike previous awards, the mini-cover of the LP was included on the presentation strip plate. These awards were also the first to contain either a gold-or-silver plated cassette, acknowledging the increasing contribution of cassette tapes toward sales. The cassettes were located either directly beneath the album disc or on the LP itself.
"Hologram" (1985 to present)
An RIAA holographic seal incorporating the RIAA logo has appeared on all RIAA plaques since March 1985. The hologram is used to prevent unauthorized duplication of awards, and usually appears on the presentation plate along with the dedication and mini-album cover. After the hologram style of awards was introduced, the traditional size and style restrictions for awards were relaxed, giving record companies more freedom in choosing a design for a particular award. Customized awards and impressive designs, which now include the CD configuration, are a collaborative effort on the part of the record label and the licensed plaque manufacturer. The collectible value of these awards depends on a number of factors including the artist, title, presenter, format and condition of each award. For more information on collecting Gold and Platinum awards, see "Goldmine's Price Guide to Collectible Record Albums," 3rd Edition.
Other Award Trivia.
Think you know your music? Who's the top certified group of the 20th century? The Beatles are the most successful recording act with sales of more than 106 million albums and that's just in the U.S.!
What about the top solo artist? Nope, not Elvis. Garth Brooks has sold 89 million albums and his sales are climbing. Elton John is second, then Billy Joel, then Barbara Streisand, and then Elvis.
The first Gold ® single? Perry Como's "Catch a Falling Star" (RCA Records) in 1958, the year the awards were launched. The first Gold ® album? The cast album to Oklahoma sung by Gordon Macrae (Capitol Records). Johnny Taylor's "Disco Lady" is the first Platinum ® single. The first Platinum ® album certified by the RIAA was The Eagles' Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975. And now, that album has reached over 26 million copies, becoming the best-selling album of the 20th century. Michael Jackson's Thriller, which was one of the first Multi-Platinum albums ever certified, held the top album slot from 1984 until his record was tied and then eventually broken in 1999.
Gold, Platinum And Diamonds
On March 16, 1999, the RIAA launched the Diamond ® Awards, honoring sales of 10 million copies or more of an album or single. Of all the artists in attendance, Sir Elton John best described the significance of the award when he said "I think this is the biggest accolade you can be given because it means your fans have gone out and bought your records. And that's why we make records--for our public."
The list of Diamond ® titles represents some of the best and most influential recordings in history. From The Beatles to The Backstreet Boys, it is truly an audio timeline of the last 50 years. Representing all genres of music, these 58 artists and 78 tiles total more than 900 million in U.S. sales.
On commenting on the RIAA's artist of the century, Hilary Rosen (President and CEO) stated, "These artists represent the very best of popular music and deserve the highest accolades the industry has to offer. All have been major trendsetters, as well as record-breakers. Their exceptional talent has opened doors for other artists to follow."
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