In our continuing series on exposing The Realness (or Lack Thereof) we present a Bullets & Bombs (Jim Farber) article on just what those Gold/Platinum certifications "might" mean!!

The Following Article is ©1997 NYDN



Record Sales: Play It as It Lies

New gold-certification rules giving retail a goose

etting a gold or platinum record doesn't always signify success for an artist. It can also signal fear.

Since the record companies themselves lobby for these awards (which then get

rubber-stamped by the industry's own organization, the Recording Industry Association of America) - and since the company's "evidence" for claiming the award

can be based on shipments rather than sales - figures can easily be cooked.

In fact, companies tend to apply for the awards most quickly when they're worried that an album won't perform up to snuff, or as a face-saver when the LP starts to shimmy down the charts.

Now, the RIAA has made it easier for the industry to pull this off. While companies once had to wait 60 days after an album's release to begin slapping gold or platinum symbols next to a title on the charts, in September that waiting period shrank to 30 days.

The first to take advantage of this new rule is Columbia Records, with Mariah Carey's new LP, "Butterfly." While the album opened at No. 1 with stronger first-week

sales than any previous Carey album, it has since dipped to No. 7 after suffering a significantly slower sales-average per-week than her previous LP, 1995's "Daydream."

Even Billboard, which normally goes out of its way to spin sales figures in a favorable direction for an artist, last week mulled Carey's slide.

Small wonder that Columbia lobbied to have "Butterfly" instantly awarded a double platinum prize (for 2 million sales). In fact, the album has so far sold just 1 million.

But Columbia is hardly the only company to try this. It just was faster on the draw.

Warner recently "certified" Fleetwood Mac's 2-month-old "The Dance" at 2 million, even though it has sold 1.3 million so far.

Same with Curb Records for the new LeAnn Rimes LP - now crowned at double platinum, when it has so far sold 600,000 copies short of that.

Given Mac and Rimes' lofty, and sustained, chart positions, they hardly needed the goosing. But the lightning-fast Carey "certification" betrays Columbia's jitters about her slip - which just goes to show how sensitive the company can be about its sales queen.

Fact is, Carey's album will have no trouble meeting its double platinum claim by the time we're into the Christmas season, which has always given the diva a boost. Actually, some other companies and artists have had greater cause for worry on this issue. Recently, the companies behind En Vogue, 311, Mary J. Blige and Aerosmith all nervously affixed platinum awards to their albums at the precise moment when the LPs began their chart decline.

Meaning, when you see these awards on the charts, these days, you can take it as not just a boast, but also a warning.

In Other News The new Bobby Brown album has gotten off to a fumbling start: "Forever" entered the Top 200 at an awful No. 61, selling just 20,000 copies. Oh well. That's the fans' prerogative.

The Preceding Article is ©1997 NYDN

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