Music streaming: between 1% and 3% of listening artificially inflated

(AFP) – This is the first study in the world of its kind for music streaming: between 1% and 3% of online listening is false, according to data for 2021 in France unveiled on Monday by the National Music Center (CNM). ) who oversees the sector.

It is a plague. By “artificially inflating the volume of consumption of one or more titles, we increase the notoriety and the economic value of a project or an artist”, denounced at the beginning of December the Union of independent French phonographic producers.

According to information from platforms (Deezer, Qobuz, Spotify) and distributors (Universal, Sony, Warner, Believe and Wagram), the CNM establishes that in France, in 2021, between 1 and 3 billion streams, “at less”, were false, i.e. between 1% and 3% of total plays.

It is “certain that the reality of false streams goes beyond what is detected, without it being possible to arrive at a precise figure, since they do not enter the field of detection”, develops the president of the CNM, Jean-Philippe Thiellay.

The “figures circulating in the media, much higher than 3%, are not based on any established and demonstrated data, which does not allow us to contradict them”, adds the manager.

Some professionals “have indicated that they are approached directly by service providers presenting their artificial stream increase offers and Deezer is seeing an increase in fraud detected in 2022”, he further explains.

– Prices –

France Inter has obtained an email with prices from a company which thus promises “100% French” streams, which “are not bots (virtual listeners, editor’s note) but real people who listen to your titles”.

According to this radio station, prices range from 129 euros for a pack of 10,000 to 20,000 streams to 6,499 euros for more than one million streams.

The CNM, for its study, collaborated with most of the players in the sector. But the body deplores “that players such as Amazon Music, Apple Music and YouTube were unable or unwilling to share their data according to the defined observation perimeter, despite all guarantees of confidentiality”.

The authority defines the fraudulent manipulation of online plays as “the artificial increase in the number of plays or views, by robots or natural persons, with the aim of generating income, improving the performance of a title in the charts and/or to guide a recommendation system (playlists, search)”.

“Stream farms (networked computers, editor’s note), hacking of accounts, the imagination of pirates is rich and evolving”, still regrets the CNM.

– See you in 2024 –

All areas are concerned: hip-hop, pop/rock, classical, French song or background music. In detail, on Spotify and Deezer, “the very large share of detected streams comes from hip-hop/rap: it’s quite logical since these are the most listened to genres (more than 50% of the top 10,000 on Spotify and 40% on Deezer)”, still notes the CNM.

However, “compared to the total number of listens to hip-hop / rap titles, these fraudulent streams represent only a very small percentage, 0.4% on Spotify and 0.7% on Deezer”.

In comparison, the share of streams detected “as fraudulent out of all listening of a given genre is significantly higher for background music (4.8% on Deezer)”.

In the current system of distribution of income from music streaming – generally a common pot divided in favor of the most listened to -, those “who inflate their listening figures withdraw a share of remuneration from all those who do not cheat”, analyzes the CNM .

Saying to take “the manipulation of streaming very seriously” and to make “efforts” to combat this phenomenon, a spokesperson for Spotify France for his part assured AFP that these artificial streams “had no impact on the remuneration of artists”.

To fight against this fraud is to come up against a pitfall: “in most cases, the sponsor at the origin of the request for manipulation of the streams will rarely be identified and identifiable”, concedes the National Center for Music.

The body proposes the development of an “interprofessional charter for the prevention and fight against the manipulation of online eavesdropping”. The CNM will also carry out a new study in 2024.