IFPI Touts Fake Stream Takedowns in Canada, Says Manipulation Services ‘Cannot Be Allowed to Continue to Divert Revenue Away from the Artists’

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Polson Pier in Toronto. Photo Credit: Alex Shutin

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has announced the takedown of nine Canada-based sites that allegedly sold fake streams.

This latest effort to curb the prevalence of fake streams came to light today, in a formal release that was emailed to DMN. Counting as members the Big Three labels and a number of others, the IFPI has for years been zeroing in on services through which individuals can purchase artificial plays on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. (Stream-rippers, which enable users to download videos’ audio, remain a key focus area as well.)

However, most of the long-running crackdown’s targets have been based in markets outside Canada – including, for instance, Germany and Brazil, the latter of which boasts a quick-growing music space and, per IFPI data, generates the vast majority of its industry revenue via streaming.

Evidently, though, fake stream operators aren’t discriminating when deciding where to set up their platforms, which have reportedly factored prominently into money laundering schemes.

According to the IFPI, it and Music Canada specifically took action against “a group of nine connected consumer-facing streaming manipulation services based in Canada” with a Canadian Competition Bureau complaint. All nine of these services as well as their sub-domains, the most popular being MrInsta.com, have been shuttered, the industry representative communicated.

(One website of the same name, featuring a .biz domain name and seemingly dealing solely in Instagram followers and likes, was still live at the time of this writing.)

Addressing the development and the broader issue of fake streams, IFPI chief legal officer Lauri Rechardt emphasized the perceived income-related consequences of artificial plays for proper artists.

“Streaming manipulation has no place in music,” the nearly 10-year IFPI higher-up Rechardt said in part. “Perpetrators and enablers of streaming manipulation cannot be allowed to continue to divert revenue away from the artists who create the music. The activity also harms consumers and distorts the fan experience.”

Last month, reports out of Denmark revealed that a 53-year-old man was heading to trial for allegedly masterminding an approximately $640,000 streaming fraud operation. According to what appears the most recent (Danish-language) report on the matter, the alleged criminal in late February took the stand and denied wrongdoing.

Bigger picture, a newly released breakdown from Legitary is drawing attention not only to fake streams, but the broader issue of “suspicious” plays. The classifier applies to 16 percent of all streams, per the mentioned source, which pointed to (among other things) the impact of comparatively seldom-discussed problems like unintentional data shortcomings and adjacent errors.