The latest edition of the journal Civilisations, published by Univertité de Toulouse, contains a new article of mine: ‘The Gold Disc: One Million Pop Fans Can’t Be Wrong?’.
In the piece I explore the record industry’s primary sales trophy: the gold disc, as well as its later derivatives - platinum, diamond and silver discs. The gold disc has set a standard for which artists should aim. It has also been used a measure of commercial viability. And yet, despite the gold disc’s supposedly fixed targets, its standards can be deemed unfair. On the one hand, they have not remained the same: they have differed between territories and have shifted over time. On the other hand, their rigidity masks the diversity of record industry practices: they do not take into account the differing business models of record companies or the range of artist’s recording contracts. In the article I uncover some of this diversity and how the gold disc helps to obfuscate it. Despite its basis in the mass reproduction of analogue recording formats, the gold disc has continued to be awarded in the digital age. I explore ways in which the sales award has been adapted to this new environment, as well as its use as a symbol of continuity. Finally, I address the golden ideal that the sales award perpetuates and the impact this has had on artists and audiences.