Streaming now counts toward gold records

South Korean singer Psy performs with rapper MC

South Korean singer Psy performs with rapper MC Hammer, left, during New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square. (Dec. 31, 2012) (Credit: Getty Images)

Now you don't even have to spend one penny to help your favorite musician get a gold record.

Thanks to a rules change by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), artists can include songs streamed online through on-demand services like Spotify and Rhapsody, as well as videos streamed on YouTube, in tallies to get a gold or platinum single, alongside sales. While it still takes 500,000 downloads to get a gold digital single and 1 million for platinum, the RIAA will count every 100 streams as the equivalent of one paid download for a single.

That's a boon for YouTube kings like Psy, with his 1.5 billion views of "Gangnam Style," though only U.S. views count toward the certification.

The new calculation has landed 11 artists their first RIAA digital song certifications -- ranging from Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You," released before the heyday of digital sales, to Andy Grammer for "Keep Your Head Up," Emeli Sandé for "Next to Me" and Anna Kendrick's "Cups" from the "Pitch Perfect" soundtrack.

"Including music streaming in gold and platinum awards... reflects the wide spectrum of ways consumers enjoy music," says RIAA chairman Cary Sherman.

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