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MARKETANALYST.US / ECONOMY & WORK

Here's How Some Big Artists in the Music Industry Fake Their Numbers Using 'Streaming Farms'

Streaming farms use bots to artificially play music on platforms like Spotify or Apple Music to inflate the number of streams a song gets.
PUBLISHED APR 17, 2024
Cover Image Source: @nowthis | TikTok
Cover Image Source: @nowthis | TikTok

A recent video on Now This (@nowthis) on TikTok garnered widespread attention as it exposed a major scam carried out by Music artists called 'Streaming Farms'. The host of the video explains how well-known musicians are using this fraud to artificially increase the number of plays on their music streams. As a result, smaller, more genuine artists suffer in the music industry as the attention is drawn away from them. In a 2019 Rolling Stone article, Louis Posen, the creator of Hopeless Records, said that this dubious industry may be defrauding artists of $300 million a year. It equates to roughly 3-4% of all the actual streams that musicians receive from sincere fans. At this point, the figure might even be higher. According to a 2023 analyst estimate cited by the Financial Times, up to 10% of global music streams are fraudulent.

Representative Image: Person Wearing Headphones | Davis Sánchez | Pexels
Representative Image: Person Wearing Headphones | Davis Sánchez | Pexels

Why is this relevant now? Streaming services have a pot of money they share with the actual music owners. Therefore, when musicians falsify their streams, they are essentially stealing money that could have been given to artists who have actual fans. When streaming platforms began to replace radio, streaming farms became more popular.

In the past, major musicians and record labels would lubricate radio DJs' palms to get their songs broadcast. However, lesser-known musicians are finally having a chance to shine thanks to services like Spotify. This means the big shots are scrambling to keep their spot at the top of the charts, so they resort to buying streams. Spotify and other streaming services are trying to put a lid on this by keeping an eye out for fishy stuff, like a sudden surge in streams or a song being repeated endlessly for hours, this has been carefully explained in the video.

Image Source: nowthis | TikTok
Image Source: nowthis | TikTok

A Spotify representative claims that when they discover fake streams, they notify the relevant label or distributor without paying royalties. They even have the authority to remove songs from the site and punish distributors and labels. The worst part, though, is that some musicians say they're being unfairly punished because bots are hitting them. It appears that the musicians' marketing firms may be working behind the scenes to fulfill their commitments. Apple Music has been cracking down on streaming shenanigans since 2022. With AI getting smarter, people are still dipping into the royalty pool, already stretched thin and meant for artists with genuine followings.

Making money through shady means isn't new. The majority of musicians used to get by selling albums and singles a few decades ago. But that's only the tip of the iceberg these days. The real money is in streaming, with services like Deezer, Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music having a combined user base of over 713 million, as reported by Statista.

Here's what the viewers had to say about this revelation.

Image Source: nowthis | TikTok
Image Source: nowthis | TikTok

Some also questioned if this is how the artists are getting their songs popular these days.

Image Source: nowthis | TikTok
Image Source: nowthis | TikTok

People watching the video noticed how fake views aren't just a music problem but also affect other parts of life. They joked about which singers might be using fake views and compared it to authors buying their books to become bestsellers.

Image Source: nowthis | TikTok
Image Source: nowthis | TikTok

Streaming farms use thousands of devices, usually smartphones, each with a fake account for a streaming service. With special software, they keep playing the same song over and over again. The more a song gets 'listened to,' the more it gets recommended to real users. So, using these farms, you can cheat your way onto the charts. Plus, since streaming platforms payout based on listens, and a song only needs to play for 30 seconds to count, it's like hitting the jackpot for the bad guys. A bot never gets tired or bored of the same tune. With 86,400 seconds in a day, that's 2,880 songs per device!

You do the math: multiply that by the total number of devices on the farm, deduct subscription costs, electricity costs, and smartphone costs, and you have yourself a fairly simple-to-run fraud.


@nowthis Could your favorite artist's streams be skyrocketing because of fake plays? Spotify thinks so. Here's how streaming farms like these have taken over charts and shut out smaller artists. #Reacts #streaming #musicindustry #streams #billboardcharts ♬ original sound - nowthis

For more such content, you can follow @nowthis on TikTok.

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