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Written by Ramsey Brown
Before the rise of music streaming, a minor scandal would occasionally occur over the falsified award of Gold Records to successful singers. But now in the midst of the streaming era, the results of hits can be inflated and almost undetectable. When suddenly an artist that nobody knew rises as a new great phenomenon on streaming platforms, many of us wonder how it’s possible that these people come out of nowhere and become overnight superstars?
This happens frequently and has even been confirmed by the hackers interviewed in the documentary "One Hundred Million Visits" by Israeli Itamar Rose, which investigates the origin of false reproductions on YouTube. The pirates in the film explain how they are able to get users likes, views, and comments on any song or video posted on the site. Now that we know there are ways to cheat the system and gain views in a quick and untruthful way, it makes people question the legitimacy of all hit songs that achieve this sort of overnight acclaim. This is not necessarily always the case and it can put a target on the back of those who acquired their popularity honestly.
This issue doesn’t just happen on YouTube. This is a big problem for many other streaming platforms, the main one being Spotify. For only a small dollar amount, musicians can purchase a certain number of plays, likes, reposts, and other types of services that make it appear that their music has more activity than it actually does. The herd effect has always been very important in music, if we see that a song has a hundred million hits or views, we click instantly because we assume it’s got to be great if so many others appear to be listening to it.
Although at first, it may sound like this method is very beneficial to artists, and one could see how it would be tempting for an artist to take part in this illegal endeavour in an attempt to boost their music career. However, this false increase of popularity thanks to cyber bots can actually do the opposite. Among the many other problems that fake streams and likes can cause artists, the most serious issue this scandal presents is ending their music career.
Bot activity and fake streams is a very serious concern among the music industry and Spotify specifically has taken many measures to catch those who have fake plays and likes on their account. With bots becoming so common on the platform, it poses an even greater risk to those who have not purposefully taken part in the purchase of false activity. Bots can appear on an artist's account even if they had no involvement in ordering them. As we mentioned, this can lead artists into deep trouble. Which it’s why it’s so important to know how to detect bots on your Spotify account so you can take the proper steps to get rid of them.
Currently, many of the artists looking to grow their Spotify the honest way are very concerned that their best hits may be inflated by bots. For the people who want to improve their views legitimately and protect themselves from unwanted bot activity and the many issues they can cause, this article is definitely for you. We are going to discuss 7 different tips and tricks for musicians to use so that they can detect if their visits within Spotify are real visits or are from fake cyberbots. If you want to take preventive measures in safeguarding your Spotify account and overall music career, take note of the information below!
As we now know, bots pose great danger to one’s overall success. That is why we are providing artists with the means to take action against this. Below are 7 ways you can detect if your music is being attacked through bot activity. Next time you go onto your Spotify app, keep these tips in mind so you can know if your account is at risk or not.
The very name of bot tells you that visits aren't made by real people and logically, a bot does not behave in the same way as a real human would. Thanks to these differences, it can be somewhat simple to expose the activity between a bot and a legit person. The first and most obvious indication we are going to look at is the overall ratio between streams, listeners, and saves.
When an artist drops a new song, the people who listen and like it will typically save it to their ‘Favorites’ library. In the case of bots, they will only go to ‘listen’ to a song and will rarely, if ever actually ‘save’ it to their library of music. In the case of having bots on your account, it can sometimes be detected when the rate of saves is much lower than your rate of listens. Approximately, an artist account that does not have bots will have a saved ratio of between 6 and 10%, while a botted account does not exceed 3%.
Another important point is also the streams to listeners ratio. The bots only listen to the song once and your monthly listeners will typically continue to play that song on some occasion. If you find your account has an overall low number of monthly listeners yet you somehow have a ton of streams on your songs, this can often be a bad sign that many of the streams are botted. Generally, it is intended that for every 10 reproductions of the song, it is heard by between 4 and 6 people, that is, a ratio of 40% -60%.
The Spotify algorithm can also give us clues about the presence of bots in our plays. One of those tracks can be found in the "Fans Also Like" section. What the algorithm does is guide Spotify listeners to meet similar artists from the one they listen to thanks to the searches of other listeners who are looking for similar music. It is a complex mechanism that helps to find the music that you may like through the people themselves. But unlike people, these bots do not have a taste for music, it means they are simply dedicated to increasing visits by listening to completely random songs. This makes Spotify's algorithm unable to properly catalog other artists of a similar genre, as the so-called ‘listeners’ have only been listening to completely random genres. So the ‘Fans Also Like’ section of your profile will remain a mix of very diverse artists.
In the worst cases, an artist can have so many bots within the visualizations that it can cause not a single artist to be generated within your ‘Fans Also Like’ section, even with thousands of reproductions. This situation is an indisputable clue to the presence of bots in your visits.
Another one of the helpful ways to detect bots on your account is through playlists. The detail that makes it very clear that a playlists may be bot generated is an overall sloppy appearance. Things such as bad grammar, no cover art, not very well-known artists, with a large number of views are tell-tell signs a playlist may be fake. They are all red signals about the presence of bots, but it is only the tip of the iceberg. After the outside details, we can see a very low stream-to-listener ratio which is another key sign that the account has bot problems. In the long run, this will also hurt the save rate.
Some other problems can affect an artist regarding playlists. There is the possibility that due to the supposed tastes of the bots, you can get placed in a playlist full of genres that are completely irrelevant to your actual genre of music. This error of being included in a playlist which has no real fit to your music style can ultimately translate to a low ‘saved’ rate and a large percentage of skips to the artist. Although these playlists may be listened to by real people, being incorrectly placed on a playlist will have a bad effect on artist data.
The Spotify algorithmic movement is very useful for discovering artist accounts with bot problems. If you compare the algorithmic movements of an artist with bots to one without them, you can see the difference in how much you detect the errors caused when bots provide wrong information to Spotify algorithms.
Important stats for Spotify's algorithm include: Listening History (mood, style, genre), Skip Rate (less skips = more recommendations), Listening Time (getting past 30 seconds is key), and Playlist Features (inclusions across all personal, indie & official playlists).
When we look at the number of monthly listeners an artist has had and also see the number of followers for the month, we can find discrepancies that point to botted artists. The signal is an artist with a large number of monthly listeners but then has a number of followers that is surprisingly low. This is a good indication that there is a presence of bots that has increased their number of streams or has placed the artist in a fake playlist.
There may be rare cases in which the number of listeners has risen massively by getting the playlist algorithm activated to enter popular playlists like Discover Weekly. For this reason, before assuming the presence of bots in accounts with many listeners and few followers, we must check if the artist has entered a popular playlist.
If we look at the growth of artists over time, there are some big differences between botted artists and those who do not suffer from these problems. Artists with bots show high peaks in streams and followers in a short period of time, while those without bots show slower but progressive growth without spikes indicating multi-account and bot usage.
Our last trick to discovering if an artist has bots is to know where the visits come from. This can be seen throughout the data in the 'Where People Listen' section. There are cities with a greater predisposition to meet new artists, which is known as Trigger Cities. Among them are Mexico City, Sao Paulo, and London.
In general, all the bots come from the same location that sometimes comes from countries in which Spotify does not even operate. To solve it, it resorts to VPNs to change its supposed location to smaller cities on the planet. Therefore, when we see where our listeners come from, we see an excessive amount of people from a specific city. This is usually indicative of a bot farm which is located there with the use of VPNs. If you find peculiar or strange cities mentioned in your ‘Where People Listen’ section of your account, it could very well be due to bots.
So far, we have found these seven points mentioned above to be the most useful tricks to discover if you or another artist has bots within your Spotify page. Bots pose a huge threat to the wellbeing of an artist's career, so if you find after reading this article that you may have incurred some bot interaction, it’s highly recommended that you take the proper steps to stop and remove them.
We suggest that you never buy these bots to quickly upload visits or listeners, no matter how tempting it may seem. Although they can give you an initial boost in numbers, as you now know they are easy to discover and get in trouble for. Not only can your account be deleted altogether from Spotify, but bots also have a negative effect on your overall algorithm and can prevent new and genuine fans from finding your music in the future. These sort of risks are definitely not worth the instant gratification of purchasing followers and plays. We hope you found this article helpful and take the proper steps to avoid these problems!
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