Kanye West has carried the streaming music industry past another milestone. His most recent album, The Life of Pablo, was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). What’s new and different is that it did so through streams only. Pablo wasn’t made available as a digital download on iTunes or other online music stores. It was instead offered as a streaming product through first Tidal, and then Apple Music, Google Play, Spotify, and other services. Pitchfork reported that Pablo has been streamed a staggering 3 billion times, with 1.5 billion of those streams in the U.S. It’s the U.S. figures that earned it Platinum status, and that certification did not include the copies of Pablo sold direct by Kanye. Streaming music—including Apple Music—are clearly the near-term future of the music industry. Earning Platinum certification through streaming only is symbolic of that tidal shift. It’s also further validation for Apple’s investment in Apple Music.
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