Chinese click farms. Empty warehouses filled with computers streaming music. Wifi-connected cell phones streaming music non-stop. These are just some of the purported tactics Drake fans allege that Selena Gomez used to top Spotify’s charts.
Last week, Selena Gomez pulled off what many music fans considered unthinkable.
On November 10th, the pop singer beat out Drake to become Spotify’s most-streamed artist. Gomez had 46,202,009 monthly listeners. The Canadian rapper had 46,114,143.
That quickly set off a firestorm of criticism. The female pop singer hasn’t released a new album since 2015.
Angry about the singer’s ‘achievement,’ Drake’s fans have taken to social media to lambaste Gomez.
The story of Spotify success.
On Twitter, Drake’s fans accused the singer of hacking her way to the top.
“No hate but who actually listens to her music?? Like “aye play some Selena Gomez rn”? What.”
“I have never in my life met an actual person who deliberately listens to Selena Gomez.”
“i saw something about how she has empty warehouses of computers streaming her music and usually i’d be like oh that’s just bitter talking but i really don’t know one person who listens to her and i have never in my life heard the phrase ‘hey have you heard that new Selena Gomez.'”
They have a rather simple explanation for the pop singer’s achievement – Gomez and her label have used automated bots ahead of an unannounced major project.
One user explained a tactic in which major labels purchase a ton of phones. Then, after connecting them to a Wi-Fi network, they deliberately stream artists on their roster non-stop.
Of course, the concept of gaming streaming service plays isn’t exactly new. And, it’s actually quite easy to do.
Thanks to the power of the internet, musicians can readily purchase streaming music plays and followers for a relatively low price. Spotlister, a failed payola service, secured prominent playlist slots on Spotify for artists willing to shell out as little as $2 and as much as $5,000.
Similar services exist to largely inflate SoundCloud plays, getting you on the platform’s Trending chart. You can also pay as little as $5 to greatly increase your Instagram likes, thus increasing your ‘buzz.’
Of course, Spotify and SoundCloud have long frowned upon these services. But, that hasn’t stopped users from promoting wild and baseless ideas, including the concept of Gomez using Chinese click farms.
Yet, a simpler explanation remains – people may very well like streaming Selena Gomez. And, with the singer recently taking another break from social media, Drake’s fans may simply be resentful of her popularity.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that gaming is actually taking place. That’s currently a bit difficult to prove, though fraud detection systems are becoming more sophisticated. Already, we’ve seen a fairly robust beta-stage fraud detection solution from Rebeat Innovation, one that could bring dramatic changes to stream inflation and errant royalty accounting.
Spotify itself also has fraud detection systems, and routinely shuts down artists suspected of gaming their streams. Sophisticated hacks have outsmarted those systems, however, with Spotify alleged to have paid millions to a hacker collective operating out of Bulgaria (Spotify denied the claims).
Featured image by Amanda Nobles (CC by 2.0).