Music streaming: 1% to 3% artificially inflated listening – Music

According to data for 2021 in France released on Monday by the National Music Center (CNM), which oversees the sector, it is the first study of its kind in the world for music streaming: between 1% and 3% of online listening is fake. .

It’s a plague. “By artificially increasing the volume of consumption of one or more names, we increase the fame and economic value of a project or an artist,” condemned by the Union of Independent French Phonographic Producers in early December.

Between 1 and 3 billion fake streams

Based on data from platforms (Deezer, Qobuz, Spotify) and distributors (Universal, Sony, Warner, Believe and Wagram), the CNM identifies between 1 and 3 billion streams in France in 2021, which is “less than” between 1 and 3 billion. , i.e. 1% to 3% of total games.

Jean-Philippe Thiellay, president of the CNM, says that “the reality of errant flows goes beyond what is detected, it is impossible to get a precise figure because they are not included in the detection area”.

“The figures spread in the media, more than 3%, are not based on any established and proven data, which does not allow them to be contradicted,” adds the manager.

Some experts “reported being approached directly by service providers offering to artificially increase streams, and Deezer noted an increase in fraud detected in 2022,” he further explains.

France Inter received an email with quotes from a company promising “100% French” broadcasts, which are “not bots (virtual listeners, editor’s note), but real people listening to your headlines.” According to this radio station, prices range from 129 euros for a package of 10,000-20,000 broadcasts to 6,499 euros for more than a million broadcasts.

“The imagination of pirates is rich and flourishing”

CNM collaborated with most players in the sector for its research. But the agency regrets that “players such as Amazon Music, Apple Music and YouTube are unable or unwilling to share their data according to the established surveillance perimeter, despite all privacy guarantees.”

The authority defines fraudulent manipulation of online plays as “artificially increasing the number of plays or views by robots or individuals for the purpose of generating revenue, improving and/or controlling a title’s performance in the charts.” recommendation system (playlists, search)”. “Streaming farms (networked computers, editor’s note), account hacking, pirates’ imaginations are rich and thriving,” CNM still laments.

All fields apply: hip-hop, pop/rock, classical, French song or background music. Spotify and Deezer detailed that “the overwhelming majority of detected streams come from hip-hop/rap: this makes perfect sense as these are the most listened to genres (over 50% of the top 10,000 on Spotify and over 40 most). % on Deezer)”, notes CNM again.

However, “compared to the total number of people listening to hip-hop/rap titles, these fake streams only make up a very small percentage, 0.4% on Spotify and 0.7% on Deezer”.

In comparison, “the proportion of streams detected as fake among all listens of a given genre is significantly higher for background music (4.8% on Deezer)”.

Distribution of income in the “common pot”.

In the current music streaming revenue sharing system — a common pot that is generally split in favor of the most listened to — “those who inflate their listening numbers take a share of the bounty from all those who don’t,” CNM analyzes. .

A spokesperson for Spotify France said that it is necessary to “take the manipulation of the stream very seriously” and make “efforts” to combat this phenomenon, in turn, assuring that these artificial streams “have no effect on the premium artists”.

The fight against this fraud is to face a trap: “In most cases, the sponsor at the source of the request for the manipulation of streams is rarely identified and can be identified”, – the National Music Center admits.

The organization proposes the development of an “interprofessional charter to prevent and combat manipulation of online auditions.” CNM will also conduct a new study in 2024.

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