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10 Myths About RIAA Awards

Posted by James Duncan on

Want to sort out the myths from reality? While there are many more than ten myths about RIAA awards, we've covered some of them here:

1. Myth: On an album award, if the number of tracks on the record disc do not match up with the album being recognized by the award, the award is fake. Reality: It was most common for record labels to send any record they had available, and not the one being recognized, to the RIAA award manufacturer for an award. Rarely, exceptions to this occur. Here's one example of an exception with a real metal mother disc for Heart's 1975 album Dreamboat Annie. With the correct number and lengths of tracks on the disc, the dead wax area of the record also sports the inscription "IT'S IN THE WAX TO THE MAX" and the correct MRS-5005-A matrix number, just as on the actual album:

Heart Dreamboat Annie RIAA Platinum Album Award - Record Award

Heart Dreamboat Annie RIAA Platinum Album Award - Record Award


2. Myth: If the matrix numbers in the dead wax area of the record disc do not match the catalog number of the release being recognized, the award is fake. Reality: Not true the vast majority of the time, for the reasons listed in #1.

3. Myth: If an award has no manufacturer sticker, it is always fake. Reality: Although this is always a red flag to examine all the details of an award more closely, it may just mean the award has been repaired. It may also have been made by a non-RIAA authorized award manufacturer but was actually ordered by the record label and presented to a bona fide recipient. The early to mid-80s saw a fair number of these types of awards, like this one from 1984 for Prince's Purple Rain album, presented to his bodyguard "Chick" Huntsberry:

Prince Purple Rain RIAA Platinum LP Award - RARE - Record Award

4. Myth: Awards presented to the artist were exclusively owned by the artist. Reality: While not exceedingly common, artist-presented awards were given to many of those who worked for or with the artist on their release in either a creative or promotional capacity.

5. Myth: Awards ordered today can be made in any of the older styles of RIAA awards. Reality: They cannot. They must be ordered in the styles dictated by the RIAA and made available by today’s RIAA-authorized award manufacturers. They must also use the most current authorized RIAA logo, which has changed throughout the years.

6. Myth: From 1975 to around 1981 when there were only two award manufacturers (New York Frame & Picture Co. and Creative Glassics), the RIAA logos that appeared in RIAA floater* awards were exactly the same. Reality: While the RIAA wanted this to be so, the slightly different logo artwork given to their respective plate makers resulted in two subtly different logos being used. Can you tell the difference in the “grooves” of the record in the logos? (The red arrows will help you out...). Here they are, with New York Frame & Picture Co. on top, Creative Glassics on bottom:



7. Myth: Every album or single that reaches a certain sales threshold automatically receives an RIAA award. Reality: The record label who released the project must submit sales data to the RIAA and this data must pass an audit. Also, many releases that actually sold the number of units required for certification were never submitted. This is why no awards exist for many Motown artists, for example, or for numerous other smaller labels in the early 1960s. These labels never submitted sales data to the RIAA for a large number of their artists. This denied them the ability to get RIAA awards for their works.

8. Myth: RIAA only certifies albums and singles from major labels. Reality: Independent artists and labels can also apply for RIAA certification if they can prove that the sales requirements have been met and satisfy other RIAA certification provisions.

9. Myth: RIAA certifications are based on total worldwide sales. Reality: RIAA certifications are based on sales in the United States only.

10. Myth: RIAA awards with plastic “gold” or “platinum” records coated in metallized foil are fake, they must have a metal “mother master” disc. Reality: This is a true statement for RIAA awards made prior to 1985, but almost all awards made since then contain a metallized plastic disc with some exceptions. In 1986, when RIAA flower hologram* style awards were launched, RIAA award maker New York Frame & Picture Co.-- which would shortly thereafter go out of business— only used nickel record discs because they felt that plastic records “cheapened” their awards. The nickel discs were plated with a micro thin layer of gold for Gold awards and left bare nickel for Platinum awards. Thus, they became one of only two companies using metal discs in flower hologram awards, like in this 1986 award for INXS album Listen Like Thieves:

INXS Listen Like Thieves RIAA Gold LP Award - Record Award

 

*Interested in knowing more about RIAA and other record award types, construction details, and what makes them great to add to your collection? Subscribe to our free bi-weekly newsletter and get our MusicGoldmine RIAA and Record Award Guide free plus a 15% discount code here.

See hundreds of guaranteed genuine RIAA and other record awards that we currently have for sale here or visit our home page for other memorabilia collections.

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