Jay-Z’s ‘Magna Carta’ Samsung Deal Prompts RIAA to Revise Rules on Digital Sales

The rapper may be getting a platinum "Magna Carta Holy Grail" disc in the mail a month sooner than expected

Last Updated: July 24, 2014 @ 12:09 PM

The Recording Industry Association of America has revised one of its certified gold and platinum awards rules to reflect the changing music industry landscape.

The organization made the change partially in response to (and in time for) Jay-Z's "Magna Carta Holy Grail" album release via Samsung mobile devices on Thursday.

Still, any reports that Jay-Z's platinum status is somehow guaranteed is misleading, according to Liz Kennedy, the director of the Gold & Platinum Program.

"The label/artist always has to apply for certification, then RIAA’s outside auditing firm of 30+ years (Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman) needs to look at the criteria and make sure the submitted sales meet our programs rules — AND there are more program rules than just the 30 day rule," Kennedy told TheWrap.

Also read: Has Jay-Z's 'Magna Carta Holy Grail' Album Gone Platinum Before Its Release?

One of the other criteria for being certified by the RIAA is meeting a minimum sales price. An album must still sell for at least one-third its suggested retail price to be counted. But as TheWrap reported earlier in the Jay-Z/RIAA controversy, the record label sets the suggested retail price — so that should generally not be an issue.

The RIAA called the change a "common sense update" in a blog post Monday. The new rule will not affect non-digital sales.

Previously, to be certified gold or platinum by the RIAA, a label had to wait 30 days from release to allow auditors to accurately track sales and returns. But in the digital realm, returns are so few and far between — only even allowed on rare occasions — that they no longer need to be considered or waited on. Therefore, in a situation where Jay-Z has sold a million digital copies upfront to Samsung, if all other criteria are met, he can expect to be certified platinum on release date.

"No certification is ever a done deal until RIAA, with our auditors, say so," Kennedy concluded. "We and our auditors review certification requests as they come in and make the determination at that point."