The count is on for music Downloads

Program to launch in August, won't be combined with CD sales

Gold and platinum are going digital.

The RIAA is extending its gold and platinum album sales honors to the Internet, where singles downloaded from legit musicstores such as iTunes and Napster will be certified gold for selling more than 100,000 copies and platinum for breaking 200,000.

Program won’t be combined with CD sales. Physical singles and CD albums must sell 500,000 copies to go gold and 1 million to reach platinum.

Since iTunes launched in Spring 2003, the RIAA estimates approximately 27 songs have sold more than 100,000 copies online. According to Nielsen SoundScan, only two songs, OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” and Maroon 5’s “This Love,” sold enough downloads to qualify as platinum in the past year.

Continuing expansion of the digital music market, where singles can typically be downloaded for 99¢ each, means that number should grow in the next year.

Org picked the minimums for top digital sellers in the hope that approximately the same number of Internet tracks will qualify as physical albums.

RIAA will launch the digital gold and platinum program in late August at an event featuring the first awards.

Program is part of the RIAA’s effort to focus on the growth of Internet musicstores as it continues to sue those who illegally download music.

News comes as Apple announced that it has sold 95 million tracks through the iTunes Music Store and is launching a promotional giveaway of 50 iPods to celebrate the impending sale of its 100 millionth digital download.

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