Streaming fraud includes, but is not limited to, making repeated plays of your own material (i.e. excessive looping across multiple devices), purchasing playlist placements, and/or using third-party services that claim to guarantee a certain number of streams. Fraudulent streaming damages legitimate releases and thus the digital service providers have begun heavily monitoring their catalogs to protect the artists and releases that have legitimate activity and streams.
AWAL takes the issue of streaming fraud very seriously and our digital service partners have a zero tolerance policy around any artificial manipulation of streaming numbers.
Note from Spotify: As your trusted partner, we wanted to take a moment to warn you about some deceptive advertisements we’ve recently seen for illegitimate music promotion services.
Third parties that promise playlist placements or a specific number of streams in exchange for compensation are likely using illegitimate practices without your knowledge. These services can threaten your hard work, resulting in the potential withholding of streams or royalties, or even complete removal of your catalog from streaming services.
Our streaming partners work diligently to ensure streams are legitimate, meaning they reflect genuine user listening intent. If a service finds that you (or a third party hired by you or on your behalf) have boosted play counts through any automated, deceptive, fraudulent or other invalid means (digital bots, “click farms”, payment for placement on playlists, etc.), the service may permanently remove your entire catalog.
What happens if my content is flagged for artificial streaming activity?
If potential artificial streaming activity is located within your catalogue by a digital service, they will remove the relevant release(s) immediately from their platform and notify us of the suspicious activity. The services will issue immediate takedowns of any releases deemed to have artificial activity surrounding it and may decide to withhold royalties from the period in which the fraudulent streams were taking place. Proof that the streaming activity is legitimate would be required before a service would consider reversing this initial action. The required evidence should include invoices for the marketing services you used, a summary of your marketing campaign, and/or some proof of off-platform activity that could have caused a spike in streams. We can present this type of evidence to the service on your behalf for review, however we cannot guarantee re-instatement of the release.
If evidence of organic streaming activity cannot be provided, Spotify will not reinstate your release and we may need to place your AWAL account under review.
How do I protect myself against streaming fraud?
While we’re unable to advise on specific circumstances, services, or playlists to look out for, there are some best practices to adhere to when promoting your release to prevent this type of activity:
- Research any promotional or playlisting service prior to beginning a working relationship. Any service requesting money for streams is likely something to be wary of. Marketing services should rarely guarantee reach or activity.
- Playing your track or release on a continuous loop often results in these types of artificial activity notices from services, so it’s best to avoid doing so. It’s also important to avoid encouraging your fans to engage in any type of activity like this as well.
- Actively monitor your streaming data and proactively investigate any activity that appears out of the ordinary with no clear reason behind it. You can easily stay across your activity on Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube by utilizing the Analytics Tool in your AWAL Portal.
For more information about tips for organic playlist placement please take a look at our Knowledge Base article, How Do I Get My Music on a Playlist?