With 1.5 billion streams, RIAA certifies Platinum for Jay-Z’s “4:44”

The Recording Industry Association of America has certified Jay-Z’s newest album, “4:44,” as Platinum with 1 million certified “units” within its first week of availability.

This achievement is especially gobsmacking since the album, its songs and its associated video materials were only available through Jay-Z-owned TIDAL for pre-existing subscribers of the music streaming service and US carrier Sprint, which owns a one-third stake in TIDAL. As 1,500 song or music video streams account for a single unit, there had to have been 1.5 billion streams in order to make the certification.

What did help, though, was when 160 iHeartRadio stations streamed “4:44” for its 35-minute length. It’s expected that an audience of millions tuned in There was also a continuous online streaming channel that ran for the day of June 30.

There was an obscure, but sanctioned full album download method, — US-based listeners had to navigate to this site and enter promo code “Sprint” to get the link — but as the album was made available for free through that method, those downloads were not counted as “units” as digital album downloads must retail for at least $6 on average to be validated. Furthermore, physical format sales, whether retail or wholesale, will only be eligible for certification after 30 days of the release date — as the TIDAL exclusivity period is to last for six months, there’s little reason to believe that any brick-and-mortar has gotten physical copies of Jay-Z’s first album in four years delivered just yet.

We don’t know what kind of fuzzy math would get Shawn Carter to 1.5 billion streams, especially when he played his cards on his terms like that, but what the RIAA also recognizes is that Carter is tops in the hip-hop genre as the only artist to earn 13 platinum album certifications.

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Jules Wang
Jules Wang is News Editor for Pocketnow and one of the hosts of the Pocketnow Weekly Podcast. He came onto the team in 2014 as an intern editing and producing videos and the podcast while he was studying journalism at Emerson College. He graduated the year after and entered into his current position at Pocketnow, full-time.