"Selling a platinum album may seem like small potatoes for a band like Soundgarden, whose hit 'Superunknown' went five times platinum following its release in 1994."
On its first day out, Soundgarden's new album, Telephantasm, has already scored a platinum award from the Recording Industry Association of America, which hands out such distinctions.
It's not unheard of for bands to get gold or platinum awards before a single copy has been sold. That's because they're based on the number of copies of an album shipped into stores, not sold.
What's unusual about Telephantasm is that its platinum award is based on the 1 million discs that are included in packages for the video game Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, released Tuesday at the same time as the album's 2-CD plus DVD deluxe edition.Isn't that cheating? Not quite, because the music discs technically have been shipped into stores. But more significantly, Soundgarden is getting an undisclosed licensing fee from the game's publisher, Activision Blizzard Inc.
The Seattle grunge band's promoters are billing the release as a "groundbreaking partnership" because it's the first time the RIAA has recognized a sale of "non-returnable units from a music label to a gaming company."
“These 1 million units, purchased by Activision, are non-returnable and represent official sales of the album,” said RIAA director Kate Harold in a press release Tuesday.
Platinum albums aren’t easy to come by these days thanks to piracy and free streaming music: It took Justin Bieber’s screaming army of preteens two months to buy a million copies of My World 2.0.
Harold expects this kind of chicanery to continue. “I anticipate we’ll be seeing more and more of these types of partnerships and cross-pollination of industries which benefit everyone, especially music fans,” she said.Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, out Tuesday for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii, is the latest in Activision’s massive catalog of music games. The entirety of Telephantasm can be downloaded as playable game tracks for $18.