While RIAA awards (those made by the official U.S. record industry trade association, the Recording Industry Association of America) are arguably the best-selling record awards among collectors, there are other choices in the marketplace which can bring similar joy, memories and value to one's collection.
These awards are produced under the authorization of similar recording industry trade organizations in various other countries whose industries have created such an organization and who issue sales awards to certify sales in those countries.
There are a couple of ways these awards can add depth to a collection. One is that some artists have only done well in certain world marketplaces--perhaps one of your favorite artists only scored "gold" or "platinum" sales in their homeland. If you moved from Canada to the U.S., for example, you might have a tough time finding RIAA awards for such mostly-Canadian successes as April Wine, Blue Rodeo, Cowboy Junkies, Streetheart, The Tragically Hip and many others.
Another way is that globally-successful artists typically have scored major sales awards in many markets and it can be great fun and enriching to collect their "trophies" from all over the world.
A Variety of Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond
The sales level for certification of Gold, Platinum or, in some countries such as the U.K. "Silver" varies and is tied to the population of the respective country.
For example, it is just as much an achievement to sell 80,000 copies of an album in Canada (the level of sales for a "Platinum" album), with its population of 36 million, as it is to sell 1,000,000 copies in the U.S., with its population of 328 million. While that is over 10x more copies sold, the U.S. territory they sold in has of course also about 10x the population of Canada.Keep in mind also that today's certification levels include online streams of music as well (i.e. digital sales via Spotify, Apple, Google stores as well). Of course over time, all music sales formats were counted in sales figures, from records to 8 tracks to cassettes, CDs and even ringtones.
We won't get into how the different sales levels for each country have evolved over time in this article. We will only list the current sales levels for albums as of the writing of this article in 2021 but we'll also delve into some history and provide photos of some of the various different country awards.
Award Details: An Array of Frames, Flags, and Styles
Here we'll go through the main country organizations with significant output of certified awards, or at least enough to create somewhat of a collector market:
Australia: ARIA (Australian Record Industry Association). Established in 1983 at which time it started issuing awards but Australian labels issued their own awards as far back as the 1970s mostly in the same format (see below). Album sales levels: Gold 35,000, Platinum 70,000, Diamond: 500,000
Here are (from top to bottom) three examples of early Australian label awards, a Black Sabbath 1972 "Gold" award, an AC/DC 1978 "Platinum" award, and a Chicago label award from 1979. Below that is a modern ARIA combo award from 2008 for Jordin Sparks:
Canada: Music Canada (as of 2011), formerly CRIA (Canadian Record Industry Association). Formed in 1972, the organization began issuing record awards at that time. Sales levels: Gold 40,000, Platinum 80,000, Diamond: 800,000. Here are (from top to bottom) examples of CRIA awards, an April Wine "gold" award from 1982, a Red Hot Chili Peppers "platinum" award from 1992, and a Shania Twain "6x platinum" award from 1995:
Germany: BVMI (Bundesverband Musikindustrie, "Federal Music Industry Association"). Founded in 1975 and began to issue awards at some point shortly after. Album sales levels: Gold 100,000, Platinum 200,000, Diamond: 750,000. Here are examples of a BVMI award. On top, a "platinum" award for Neil Young's Harvest album from around 1973-74 when the threshold for Platinum was 500,000 copies sold, and on bottom, a "gold" award for Rod Stewart's Every Beat Of My Heart album, celebrating 250,000 copies sold in 1986 when the sales threshold had changed again:
Japan: RIAJ (Recording Industry Association of Japan). A fairly recent record awards issuer, only started issuing awards in 1989. Album sales levels: Gold 100,000, Platinum 250,000, Diamond: 1,000,000. Here is an example of a RIAJ award for Lenny Kravitz album Circus from 1996, celebrating 500,000 copies sold. Note the RIAJ hologram sticker used in this award:
Netherlands: NVPI (Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld - en geluidsdragers, "The Dutch Association of Producers and Importers of Image and Sound Carriers). Founded in 1973 and began to issue awards at some point shortly after. Album sales levels: Gold 20,000, Platinum 40,000.
United Kingdom: BPI (British Phonographic Industry) Founded in 1973 and began to issue awards at some point shortly after. Album sales levels: Silver: 60,000, Gold 100,000, Platinum 300,000. Similar to early RIAA awards for which sales levels were tied to dollar amounts of sales, the earliest BPI awards were tied to sales in British pounds sterling. Here are (from top to bottom) examples of two such early BPI awards, a "gold" award for The Who from 1976 and an ELO "gold" award from 1978, along with a later "copies sold" 1992 "silver" award for the Sex Pistols:
Stay tuned for more information about awards from all over the world as we expand this article in the future. In the meantime, consider adding some international awards to your collection.
You can see our selection of ARIA and Australian awards, BPI, CRIA, BVMI and other country (and record label) awards here. Also, ask for anything you're looking for and we'll see if we can find it for you.
Want more content like this? Subscribe to our free MusicGoldmine newsletter which comes out every two weeks and also get a code for 15% off your first purchase. Go here to sign up.