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The Industry Is Spotting “Fake Streams” On Spotify

This week, a group of 21 tech companies, music publishers, and record labels agreed to a first-of-its-kind code of conduct aimed at rooting out fake streams.
Add “streaming manipulation” to your list of things to worry about. The coalition—which includes Universal, Amazon, and Spotify—defines it as the “artificial creation of plays.” And perpetrators range from automated accounts to troll farms.
The problem: Fake listens disrupt the very core of how the music biz makes money in the digital age. They inflate stats to unfairly boost artist royalties and chart placements.
The silver lining: Now you’ve got an excuse if your friends find out you’ve streamed “7 rings” 431 times this month.
This could mean change…
For revenues: Hopeless Records founder Louis Posen said this week that 3–4% of all streams are “illegitimate.” That’s allegedly costing the music industry $300 million annually.
For norms: Most labels consider pay-for-play setups on the black market a line item in their marketing budgets. Who needs a four-octave range when you can buy your way to the Billboard Hot 100?
A Google search for “buy Spotify streams” turns up 124 million results. And the FT found the website “” offers 1,000 Spotify plays for $6. And And it’s not just music
Also this week, the Big Daddy of video streamers announced a record 30 million accounts viewed its Adam Sandler/Jennifer Aniston comedy Murder Mystery in the film’s first three days. Somehow, that topped Bird Box and the GoT finale.
Keep in mind: Netflix can’t measure how many people sit through a whole title. If they make it 20 minutes, they get counted.
Bottom line: Now that we’re all extremely online, success is increasingly measured in streaming numbers instead of ticket or album sales. But the reliability of those streaming metrics remains murky.
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