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Journal of the Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association

Volume 9, Number 1 (2009)

A Quantitative Analysis of the Factors Attributed to Gold, Platinum, and Multi-Platinum Records by Debut Artists: 1999-2008

Terry Tompkins
Drexel University

Clyde Philip Rolston
Belmont University


The music industry has been predicated on the success of hit records since the inception of Top 40 radio and the album format in the 1960s. In 2006, the top 100 selling records accounted for over 50% of the revenue and the top 410 selling records accounted for 70% of recorded music sales in the United States. Quite simply, hit records cover the losses for the majority of unprofitable releases. But, the hits don’t come easy. In 2006, 126 records were certified gold or platinum from over 60,000 releases. Therefore, only .002 percent of records released each year achieve gold or platinum status. New artists are the lifeblood of a record label, maintaining a 20%-30% market share of the top selling records and contributing in large part to the growth of the industry each year. Radio, video and touring have been essential elements to a successful record release marketing campaign. Which of these elements have aided in the success of gold or platinum records for new and developing artists over the past eight years? What benchmarks account for the success of gold or platinum records for these acts? How do these benchmarks change from year to year? Genre to genre? The goal of this study is to conduct an in depth analysis of elements contributing to the success of commercial records for new and developing artists. We identify the top selling gold and platinum records by new artists each year, segmented by genre, from 1999 to 2008 via Nielsen SoundScan data. We analyze research to determine the effectiveness of marketing components in a new artist campaign using BDS/Mediabase (Radio/Video) and Pollstar (Touring) to establish achievement levels for each type of artist. We review overall sales/market data to compare annual trends.

Keywords: music industry, hit records, gold records, platinum records, recording industry, record promotion, Nielsen, SoundScan, BDC/Mediabase, Pollstar

Tompkins, Terry, and Clyde Philip Rolston. “A Quantitative Analysis of the Factors Attributed to Gold, Platinum, and Multi-Platinum Records by Debut Artists: 1999-2008.” Journal of the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association 9, no. 1 (2009): 63-94.  https://doi.org/10.25101/9.3

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