Buying fake streams or encouraging streams which aren’t organic, both are wrong, and you will get caught out. Cheating the system may seem like a great idea at the time, but it will only be you and your music affected by it. Stores are much more on it. They’re aware of people trying to game the system and won’t stand for it.
What is fraud streaming?
If you’re a musician, and you don’t know what fraud streaming is, give yourself a pat on the back. Well done you for creating awareness for your music fairly! Some people, however, aren’t as honest. They found a way to create money by streaming their music unethically to cash in big time.
To put it simply, fraud streaming is the act of inflating your number of streams artificially. This could be through a company who claims if you pay them, they’ll boost your listeners and in return you’ll receive so much money from the streaming platforms. It doesn’t work. It leaves you out of pocket because as soon as the stores catch on to you doing this. They’ll see your numbers rise drastically and pull your music down. You probably won’t receive your payment, or if you do, it will take some time to make its way to you. Then you’re left without your music online and a company keeping the money you paid them.
These companies claiming to get your streams up, are more than likely using bots to do so. This might not sound like an issue, but when your release rises rapidly in position, the stores will notice it and pull your music down. It simply won’t be allowed back on the stores. So, you’ve spent all this time creating a track you’re really proud of, and suddenly nowhere will let you publish it.
Who pays the price?
Overall, you will
Putting it simply, you will. This isn’t a scare tactic by any means. We just don’t want you getting caught out. We’re certainly not here suggesting people who have used these companies are bad people aiming to scam streaming platforms. Maybe some have this in mind, but I guarantee most don’t.
The sad part is, the majority of people using these services will be caught out. They won’t realise what they’re getting themselves into until it’s too late. Before they know it, they’ll have paid a company who are selling them the dream, and they’ll be left out of pocket with nothing to show for it. Imagine, you’ve told all your friends and family about your new release coming out and within weeks, it’s been pulled from the stores.
It’s completely understandable why streaming stores take the releases down. They aren’t able to have every individual fight their case, so unfortunately everyone must be treated the same. This means, even if you did make the mistake of trusting a company to gain you followers or streams, you’ll be treated the same as the people aiming to scam the system.
You might think your distributors can help in this situation. Unfortunately, that also isn’t the case. I know you probably think you’re paying them to have your music online. However, if you break the rules of the stores, they can’t help you. Their job is to distribute your music to the platforms, but they don’t make the rules for these streaming stores. They have rules to follow themselves when it comes to what can and can’t be sent to the platforms. Breaking these can get not only you, but your distributor in trouble if they allow your music to slip through the net. This is why they probably seem hard on you sometimes. They have to protect you, themselves and all of their users.
You’re essentially stealing revenue from those who have earned it fairly. By bumping your music up in position, you’re sending theirs further down the list. They may have spent months planning a release, promoting it fairly, all for it to be overshadowed by fraud streaming.
“three to four percent of global streams are illegitimate streams…That’s around $300 million in potential lost revenue moved from legitimate streams to illegitimate, illegal streams.”https://www.rollingstone.com/pro/features/fake-streams-indie-labels-spotify-tidal-846641/
What it means for you?
You’ll lose more streams than you gained because your music will be removed from stores. If you’re working with a distribution company, you’ll probably be warned depending on the severity. They’ll likely pull your music out of streaming platforms and advise you not to do the same thing again. It could be that you won’t get paid the earnings for that release. You may think this is unfair but if the earnings haven’t been built up fairly and you’ve tricked the system, why should you profit from this?
It could be however, that they remove all of your releases and refuse to distribute your work again. Now you’ve got an entire catalogue that you’ve got to move to another distributor and hope that they’ll reupload it. Although this doesn’t mean to say the stores will accept it again.
What can you do instead?
Gaining streams and followers isn’t off limits. You don’t need to cheat the system to have people hear your music. Here’s a few things you can do in order to get your music heard
- Promote your work before it goes live
- Choose a distributor that’s right for you
- Pitch to Spotify’s playlists
- Interact on social media
- Post regularly to your social platforms
- Focus on your branding
How PUSH can help
Basically, no one likes a cheat. Your fellow musicians, distributors and the stores themselves. It won’t get you anywhere, and it certainly won’t make you a household name like you’d hoped for. It takes time to build followers and streams. Yes, this might not be want you want to hear, but it’s true. Once you have a solid backing, more followers will come naturally. You can boost your listeners fairly but promoting your work on the lead up to release day. Don’t get greedy though and try and cheat your way to the top. You might get there briefly, but it will be a long fall down.