Music. Between 1% and 3% of streaming listens are artificially inflated

This phenomenon was foreseen, it is now demonstrated here. The Center for National Music (CNM) published a study on music streaming on Monday, claiming that between 1% and 3% of online listening is fake. “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.

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. , or 1% to 3% of total listening. 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.

Amazon, Apple and YouTube did not participate

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.” Prices in these documents range from 129 euros for a package of 10,000 to 20,000 streams to 6,499 euros for more than one million streams.

For the research, CNM collaborated with Spotify, Deezer and Qobuz. 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.

Charter soon, a new study in 2024

All fields apply: hip-hop, pop/rock, classical, French song or background music. “None of these genres should be singled out and in proportion to their market share,” CNM states. Spotify and Deezer detailed, “ A very large share of detected streams come from hip-hop/rap: this makes a lot of sense, since these are the most listened to genres (more than 50% of the top 10,000 on Spotify and 40% Deezer)” still mentions CNM.

However, “compared to the total number of listens to hip-hop/rap titles, these fake streams represent only 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)”.

According to the current revenue sharing system flow musicals — a common pot divided in favor of the most listened to — “inflates the listening numbers, taking a share of the prize money away from all those who don’t,” CNM analyzes. Saying to buy “manipulation flow A spokesman for Spotify France assured that “very serious” and “efforts” must be made to combat this phenomenon.AFP That these artificial streams “have no effect on the wages of the artists.”

However, the fight against this fraud faces a pitfall: “in most cases, the sponsor at the source of the request for manipulation of streams will rarely be 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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