Music Streaming

Curious about some streaming music terms that radio promotion people throw around?

Steve Blair at Apple Music posted this recently to an industry Facebook group and I thought it would be helpful to share it with you all.

Been having many convos with people lately, and they’ve asked for some clarity of some popular terms being used in the biz. Gonna post a handful here. Hope it helps! If you have others, please feel free to post in the comments and someone will help to clarify!


DSP = Digital Service Provider (Amazon Music, Apple Music, Pandora, Spotify, etc.)

Track Equivalent = The number of streams it takes to reach the equivalent of one track or album sale, and/or the number of track downloads to equal 1 album sale. This is also how RIAA computes for certification. 10 track downloads = 1 album sold. This is in the aggregate. So, 10 different people in America could purchase the same song, and that counts as an album sale via TEA, or “Track Equivalent Album. For on demand “premium” audio streams, these are streams from a listener who pays for an ad free experience, 125 streams = 1 track equivalent. For “freemium” or ad based listeners, 375 streams = 1 track equivalent. Consequently, 1250 on demand premium audio streams = 1 Streaming Album Equivalent (SEA). 3750 freemium = 1 SEA. So, if you have zero purchases of tracks, or albums, digitally or physically, and you only have freemium streams, in order for an album to reach RIAA Gold, you’d need 1.87B plays. For a single to reach gold, 187.5M. For premium streams, that’s 625M for Gold album, and 62.5M for a Gold single.

Lean Back Streams = A stream that typically happens as a result of someone just hitting play on an editorially programmed playlist or station and walking away. So, maybe they’re listening in the background while they perform a task, like driving or working around the house, or mowing the lawn, etc.

Lean Forward Streams = A stream that someone intentionally asked for. They opened their preferred streaming app, and typed in the artist, album, or song title and listened to that artist, album, or song. This is how artist careers are sustained.

UGC = User Generated Content. If I upload a video of my fam on vacation, and I use “Welcome To The Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses in the video, that’s a UGC use of the song.

IG or Instant Grat = Instant Gratification Track. When you offer a pre-add, or pre-order of an album or EP, the song or songs that you give the fan access to early is an IG or Instant Grat. You can have multiple IGs over the life of your pre-add. (Some rules may apply)

Steve shared this in a FB music industry professionals group that he leads…email us if you want to be invited.

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