There are services on Fiverr and other companies asking you to pay a small or large sum in order to increase your streaming numbers or followers. There are Playlist Curators out there accepting payment for placement on their playlist. There are people utilizing bot farms in order to manipulate streams. These are all examples of equally bad ideas.
“Pay for play or payola is explicitly forbidden on Spotify. Its terms of service prohibit the “selling a user account or playlist, or otherwise accepting any compensation, financial or otherwise, to influence the name of an account or playlist or the content included on an account or playlist”
This has been known since 2015 when Daniel Ek made an announcement and Financial Times covering it. Here DistroKid is explaining Streaming Fraud.
How to know if someone has paid for streams
Typically, someone who has paid for artificial streams such as digital bots, click farms, following gates etc will have specific characteristics. How do we know this? We do a lot of licensing deals and before we sign an artist we take a diligent look at their catalogue and how they are streaming through their Spotify for Artists. It’s pretty obvious if someone has manipulated their stats and this results in a “No go” for that project. Typically it looks something like this:
- A spike in streams during a couple of days, with the same amount of listeners and streams, then straight back to the normal streaming level and no streams seem to come from any particular playlist.
- Streaming vs listening ratio is really weird. Such as 100-1000 streams per listener. A normal ratio would be between 1.5 to 3 streams per listener. This is typically someone setting up 100’s of free accounts running through a playlist with only one song in it. Like this guy.
- Save Rate is incredibly low. If the save rate (saves/listeners) is below 0.3% this is either a sign of a really bad song or purchase of streams.
- Discover Weekly is non-existent. The presence of Spotify’s Algorithmic playlists is usually a great sign of quality music and that the song has ended up in relevant audiences. However, just because your song didn’t end up in Discover Weekly doesn’t mean your song is streamed by bots, it could also mean that your song is not promoted to the right audience, your song doesn’t stand out or that Spotify haven’t figured out the right audience for your song yet.
- Few adds to user-curated playlists and a lot of streams coming from the artist profile and catalog (such as 90%+). Bots will typically go into your profile and listen on repeat.
- Royalty Rates doesn’t match streaming numbers. Spotify and most distributors will block royalties from shady sources. Don’t mistake this however with getting low rates from Spotify, that’s just how it is. Depending on where your streams come from, you should get somewhere between 0.005 SEK (0.0005 USD) (free users from Latin America) to 0.07 SEK (0.007 USD) (paying users from Norway)
- Songs appear on playlists that asks for a fee to be included, either bluntly in the description or when contacting them.
- Songs appear on a playlist with thousands of followers, but not appearing when searching on the title in the search result or doesn’t generate any streams. Please note that this can happen to perfectly organic playlists that have been curated well from the start, but then slipped.
Typically, doubtful playlists will decrease in engagement over time due to its nature of accepting “less quality songs” for money. So by doing this they eradicate themeselves in the long run.
Don’t do it!
The problem with this, of course, isn’t just that we as a label have policies (see at the bottom of this page) regarding bots & paid placements, but that we (and you) risk getting our entire catalog taken down by Spotify whenever someone associated with you/us or an artists camp purchases fake streams or similar. Spotify has put this responsibility directly on us. Therefore, we will terminate agreements with artists that we suspect using doubtful playlist tactics, simply because the risk of having our entire catalog taken down by Spotify is too great (which would effectively kill our entire company). That’s why we exercise extreme caution with the music we work with.
Paying for streams will also dilute the “Spotify Algorithm” making it harder to be included in Discover Weekly, Release Radar, Radio Playlists, and Editorial Playlists. Buying streams/listeners/followers will only count as a “deadweight”. If you are about to hire a promotion firm, be sure to vet the service you plan on hiring, so you know that they won’t, in turn, pay for streams. Avoid companies that guarantee placement on playlists or promises of a specific number of streams. This will reflect back on you. If a music service discovers that you (or a marketing or promotion service hired by you) have boosted your play counts through any automated, deceptive, fraudulent or other invalid means (digital bots, “click farms,” payment for placement on playlists, etc.), the service may remove your music on a permanent basis.
In other words, please don’t do this! We’ll make sure you reach organic listeners with the potential of becoming your fans!
Do you pay Playlisters to include the song in their playlists?
No, we will never pay a playlister to include a song in their playlist. See our full policies below. We only pitch the song to serious playlisters with whom we have a very tight relationship with. If we see that you pay or have paid playlisters to be included in their playlist we will stop the campaign and terminate the contract.
Is there any specific amount of plays you can guarantee?
No, since the curators we collaborate with manage playlists that are fully based on organic followers. (Note: We’re totally against buying streams or manipulating plays/playlists/etc. in any other way in order to produce higher streaming counts). You can never know for sure how audiences will react to a song, therefore there are no guarantees. Even though a song appears in an organic playlist people can skip your song and move on to the next song in the playlist.
What’s Rexius Records policies on doubtful playlisting?
- We have a strict policy against doubtful playlisting such as bots, paid placements and other manipulative efforts to boost streams.
- Rexius Records never pays for playlisting or using bots or any manipulative efforts to boost streams.
- Rexius Records never hire a third party to do playlisting for us due to the risks involved.
- Rexius Records or affiliates never accepts money for adding songs to own curated playlists.
- When signing a contract with us, you guarantee that you have not and accept that we will terminate the contract if using doubtful playlist tactics in order to protect us and all the other artists in our roster.
- We are working with preventive actions to educate artists about the harm and risks involved with doubtful playlisting.
- If we rightfully suspect an artist to be associated with doubtful playlisting, we will notify the artist involved to cease and desist and then terminate the contract.