Monday, November 12, 2012

My exclusive story: RIAA In The US Denies Certifying Psy's 'Gangnam Style'

By JONATHAN M. HICAP, Manila Bulletin
MANILA, Philippines - The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) denied that it has awarded Korean rapper Psy's hit single "Gangnam Style" with a double-platinum or multi-platinum certification.
A report by a Korean news agency quoted YG Entertainment, Psy's Korean agency, as saying that RIAA has certified Psy's hit single with a double-platinum award.
Photos courtesy of Psy's Facebook page and YG Entertainment
After an inquiry regarding the matter, Liz Kennedy, director for RIAA's Communications and Gold & Platinum Program, told Bulletin Entertainment that RIAA has not issued any certification for "Gangnam Style."
"[The news] story is not correct.  The RIAA has not certified Psy's song yet," said Kennedy.
She added that she will contact the news agency "and ask for the story to be corrected."
The RIAA regularly issues press releases about artists getting certifications.
In its latest press release dated Nov. 8, RIAA has issued certifications to several artists including Mumford & Sons receiving their first double-platinum download certification for "Little Lion Man" and Taylor Swift's "We Are Never Getting Back Together" getting a 2X multi-Platinum certification.
Psy's "Gangnam Style" is not included in the list.
The song also does not appear on the RIAA Gold, Platinum, Multi-Platinum list for digital singles, albums and videos covering the period Oct. 1 to 31, 2012.
Kennedy explained that while Nielsen SoundScan “tracks US music sales by artist, song, genre, etc; the RIAA does not. RIAA awards certifications by request after a sales audit."
RIAA's certification is not based on Nielsen SoundScan data as it conducts its own independent sales audit.
"The audit calculates what product has been shipped for sale, net after returns, versus product used for promotional purposes, for the life of the release. An artist's Gold or Platinum award represents sales through retail, record clubs, rack jobbers, and all other ancillary markets that legitimately distribute recorded music," according to the RIAA website.
The RIAA does not use sales figures from SoundScan.
"We are often asked why we don’t just use sales figures from SoundScan. SoundScan measures over-the-counter sales at music retail locations, while the RIAA's certification levels are based on unit shipments (minus returns) from manufacturers to a wide range of accounts, including non-retail record clubs, mail order houses, specialty stores, units shipped for Internet fulfillment or direct marketing sales, such as TV-advertised albums," according to the website.
It added that, "Once a title’s sales has been audited and verified as having reached requisite levels, a formal certification report is issued and sent to the title's music label."
Psy is in Frankfurt, Germany to perform at the MTV Europe Music Awards (EMA). He is nominated for Best Video for "Gangnam Style."
Note: The story behind my article was simple. When the Korean news agency and other Korean newspapers carried the story about Psy's double-platinum award from RIAA, I was ecstatic. This was another achievement for Psy and I planned to write an article about his RIAA certification. 
I checked the RIAA website and Facebook page to find the announcement about Psy but couldn't find any. RIAA regularly issues announcements on new certifications and its last announcement was on Nov. 8. 
I checked it and I didn't find "Gangnam Style" on the list. This kept me wondering if the RIAA certification was true. 
As a journalist, I love digging information so I contacted RIAA reps to confirm Psy's double-platinum award. 
Lo and behold, RIAA's Ms. Kennedy said the RIAA has not certified "Gangnam Style" yet. 
It is undisputed that "Gangnam Style" has been downloaded 2 million times in the US, as stated by Billboard. However, it does not automatically mean that RIAA will certify it. 
Psy's label should request the RIAA for certification. And RIAA conducts its own sales audit and it does not base it on Nielsen SoundScan sales report, which BIllboard uses. 
In this case, unless RIAA announces it, despite the 2 million downloads, "Gangnam Style" has not been certified yet. 
Did someone jump the gun by preempting RIAA on the certification?
I'm for Psy's double-platinum award from RIAA. The guy has achieved so much because of "Gangnam Style." But we should all wait for RIAA's announcement on this, don't you think? 

November 17, 2012 

Note: I just found this press release/announcement on the Republic Records website, which is an announcement about Psy's supposed RIAA certification.  I contacted the VP for Publicity of Republic Records, Ms. Brooks, for comment on the RIAA denial but she didn't respond. 


"PSY's international smash and electrifying phenomenon, "Gangnam Style" [Republic/ School Boy Records], has just been certified double-platinum by the RIAA for digital sales in excess of 2,000,000. The mega hit shows no signs of stopping or slowing down either, as "Gangnam" fever spreads stronger than ever across the globe. The world knows the words, they've done the dance, and they love the man.

"Since its summer release, the song has made history this year. Its music video is officially the "most-liked" video in YouTube history, smashing the Guinness World Record previously set by LMFAO with over 4.6 million "likes". The video has also become the 2nd most-viewed video on YouTube surpassing 620 million views and counting only a notch behind Justin Bieber's "Baby". It's also cemented the Korean hip hop and pop star as a ubiquitous pop culture presence with an endless array of high-profile television appearances and glowing press.
"Recently, PSY took over the Today Show on NBC. He delivered two raucous performances—one outside on the plaza in front of a hyper-enthusiastic live audience—and two interviews throughout an hour segment, incorporating all of the anchors Al Roker, Kathie Lee Gifford, and even David Gregory of Meet the Press filling in for Matt Lauer.  He not only performed on Saturday Night Live, but the cast included him and (the dance) in a hilarious skit. In addition, ABC's Nightline provided an in-depth profile on PSY, duplicating a flash mob with his song and dance. He's also appeared onThe Ellen DeGeneres show twice, getting Ellen and Britney Spears to go "Gangnam" with him. PSY’s performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and his appearance on The View led to all of the co-hosts, including  Barbara Walters and Whoopi Goldberg, doing the "Gangnam” dance after he played.
"PSY has graced the cover of Billboard and has been featured prominently inTime MagazineNewsweekRolling StoneEntertainment WeeklyNew York TimesL.A. TimesGQPeopleMaxim, and more.
"He's also lined up a bevy of other television shows and awards shows. PSY is confirmed to perform at the MTV European Music Awards, on Dancing with the Stars, and the American Music Awards. Also, on Thanksgiving night, he'll serve up a healthy helping of "Gangnam Style" The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
"'Gangnam Style' declared PSY's arrival as a global superstar, and now he's here to stay." 

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