What Does It Mean When Music “Goes Gold” or “Goes Platinum”?

We’ve all heard the disc jockey on the radio describing a song as “going gold.”  It sounds like something that could only be topped by “going platinum,” and that’s actually the next tier up when it comes to record-industry measurements.

“Going Gold” is the music industry’s parlance for selling 500,000 copies of an album.  “Going Platinum” means the album has gone to the next step, doubling the sales to 1 million copies.

 

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Pop culture has an amazing way of using analogies to symbolize highs and lows. And, in this case, “going gold” or “platinum” demonstrates that a band has truly arrived. In the days when radio announcers “spun platters” (as vinyl records were sometimes called), these sales stats were huge accomplishments for an album. They represented the crème de la crème – or gold and platinum standards of music industry success. Today, it’s still a badge of pride when a record “goes gold” or “platinum”, but it’s even more likely to hear of records “going double platinum” or “multi-platinum”. As technologies have changed and audiences have grown, so too, have general sales numbers for the industry’s most successful acts. But regardless of the increased numbers, “gold” and “platinum” remain the standards of measurements for an album’s success.

The rarity of and interest in precious metals makes them a continued source of comparison and measurement when it comes to describing value and desirability, especially in popular culture. The music industry’s use of these terms is just one more fun metal fact to be aware of.

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