The Music Industry Is Cracking Down on ‘Fake Stream’ Operations In Brazil

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo Credit: Agustín Diaz

Though a São Paulo judge in late May removed all ISP blocks on YouTube stream-ripping websites, the music industry is continuing its separate crackdown on “fake stream” operations in Brazil.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) detailed the newest development in its long-running crusade against fake stream services – or those that artificially boost songs’ play totals on streaming platforms in exchange for payment – via a formal release that was shared with Digital Music News.

For additional context, the IFPI “and its Brazilian national group,” Pro-Música Brasil, successfully put 14 stream-manipulation operations out of commission last year, with several of the takedowns having occurred in October of 2020. Simultaneously, the IFPI in 2020 spearheaded a seemingly effective campaign against an array of fake-stream providers in Germany, and the all-encompassing effort has proceeded into 2021.

While the IFPI’s release concerning the latest in the initiative against Brazil-based streaming manipulators is light on details, it indicates that “more than 65 streaming manipulation services have been affected by these actions, including 10 sites that have shut down and 20 sites that have ceased to offer” fake streams, which cost labels and artists an estimated $300 million per year.

Plus, “35 listings for music streaming manipulation services were removed from the online marketplace Mercado Livre,” the text discloses. Buenos Aires, Argentina-headquartered e-commerce giant Mercado Libre (the company’s Portuguese name is “Mercado Livre”) announced in March that it would invest over $1.92 billion in its Brazilian operations in 2021 – two and a half times the amount that it invested in the nation of 211 million residents in 2020.

Addressing the development in a statement, IFPI chief executive Frances Moore said: “Streaming manipulation has no place in music; we continue to tackle it globally. Pro-Música Brasil, APDIF and Cyber Gaeco have achieved a fantastic result, which supports the continued growth and development of Brazil’s thriving legitimate digital music market.”

Regarding the latter point (and the years-long focus on fake streams in Brazil), the IFPI relayed in its 2020 Global Music Report that Latin America had achieved 15.9 percent year-over-year growth. And Brazil, as the largest music market in the region, generated 84.1 percent of revenue from streaming. The global music industry, for its part, grew by 7.4 percent YoY and secured 62 percent of total revenue from streaming.

Worth noting on the artificial-stream front is that Spotify kicked off 2021 by removing hundreds of thousands of indie tracks for alleged fake-stream violations – but many of the involved artists denied utilizing stream-manipulation services. Around the same time, the continued streaming success (and royalty earnings) of “white noise” tracks prompted some to ask whether it’d be easier to make money with background “music” as opposed to proper songs. Finally, late May of 2021 saw BTS fans accuse Spotify of deliberately undercounting “Butter” streams.

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