Streaming service like Apple Music and Spotify are dominating the world of music distribution in the digital space. Streaming benefits both the artist and the listener. Musicians make money with every stream their songs get, and listeners can take their music with them wherever they go without worrying about downloading.
Producers, artists and basically anyone who owns music rights is constantly working to get as many streams as they possibly can. However, in this data-driven world, there are some problems when it comes to streaming numbers, such as streaming fraud which have the power to damage one’s music career.
What is Streaming Fraud?
Streaming fraud refers to illegal attempts to generate streams and sway a platform into paying for songs played that weren’t actually listened to by fans. These are also known as artificial streams, store-end fraud or abnormal streaming activity.
Artificial streams do not reflect real statistics. They are generated via automated processes, also known as bots or scripts.
Do not rely on fake streams
Whether you’re listening to your songs on replay for hours, paying third parties to generate streams for you or using streaming bots just to get a few hundred more streams, it isn’t worth the effort.
Platforms like Spotify have also stated in their terms and conditions, that it’s strictly prohibited to increase one’s streams using bots, scripts or other automated processes.
If you get caught practicing streaming fraud on TuneCore, your music will probably be removed from all streaming platforms and stores and you will not get a dime. You might also get a warning and your account could be shut down.
What if you didn’t know that you were involved in streaming fraud? It’s okay and it happens to many artists. You could be approached by a music promoter who promises that you will generate a certain number of streams. No matter how genuine they seem, ensure that you do your research first before opting for their services.
Why you should be aware of streaming fraud as an Artist
Purchasing fake streams is not a new concept. Besides stealing an artist’s music to feed on royalties, fraudulent users can also purchase streams from illegal third parties and fake them using click-farms and illegal bots. There are third parties who guarantee a certain number of streams or playlist placements in exchange for money. Such people are most likely using illegal practices without you knowing.
Technology has advanced enough to make it easy for people to use such strategies, but Spotify has been working hard to implement systems and best practices to fight stream manipulation on their platform.
For instance, they detect fraudulent streams and work at removing fake accounts and they also require users to reset passwords that may have been compromised.
Problems that streaming fraud causes
1. It’s a waste of time and money
All the money and time you spend on creating fake streams and using illegal tactics to cheat your way to the top could have been invested in legitimate marketing, ads and other genuine strategies to organically improve your statistics.
Do your research thoroughly when searching for reputable services. You will likely come across some services that claim to get you thousands of followers or streams in one day, when they’re actually using bots to cheat the system. So, review testimonials of possible companies you want to work with, talk to their previous clients and you will eventually spend your hard-earned money wisely.
There is no way that an artist will suddenly get thousands of listeners in a just a matter of hours. However, there are several other legitimate ways of making it happen over time. The trick is to create a strategy, research constantly and work on building an efficient team to help you grow your numbers.
2. You risk having your account deactivated or suspended
In the event that you’re busted because of streaming fraud, your account will either be suspended or deactivated, and you will have start from scratch.
3. It steals well-deserved income from other artists
Streaming service operate with a shared pool system. All revenue is split according to the total number of streams. Therefore, if these numbers are interfered with by fake streams, artists with honest streams miss out on the money they deserve.
4. It reduces chances of future opportunities
Having high numbers doesn’t necessarily mean that you have talent. It’s very easy to tell if your streams are fake. When labels discover these fake streams, they share that information with the music industry. This translates to loss of trust in you, and you also get to miss out on the opportunities that could have transformed your career.
How is streaming fraud being handled?
The way we listen to music continues to advance and the music industry is constantly finding ways to combat fraudulent streaming. Streaming platforms are working endlessly to get rid of streaming fraud by being proactive in eliminating content that violates their terms and conditions. Platforms like Spotify have hired real people to review suspicious activity as they develop and enhance their technological system to identify fake streams.
It doesn’t matter how fake streams are created, but they will never be reliable. In addition, it will always be easier to detect fake streams from genuine ones. High numbers don’t equate to high talent and this is an obvious fact. “Legitimate” service that guarantee to get you thousands of streams in exchange for some money should be considered as red flags.
Sometimes, streaming fraud does not stem from an artist’s malice, but rather from paying for a shoddy, illegal marketing campaign. Research and work with genuine companies that use legal avenues to increase your followers and ultimately your streams.
Avoid engaging in fraudulent streaming or downloading activities otherwise, your account will be closed, you will be dropped from all services and all your royalties will be withheld. Even worse, it could end up in a lawsuit and you will be held accountable for all costs arising from fraudulent streaming.