In a world where DJs are accused of buying fake views, and even fake followers, it seems a new concern regarding authenticity is arising, and it could be costing artists millions.

A new investigation from Rolling Stone reports that artists on Spotify could be losing close to $300 million a year to fake streams. The investigation follows Louis Posen, founder of the California label Hopeless Records. A track released on his label with low streaming numbers that jumped to 35,000 streams for 3 consecutive days, initially caught his eye.

“When we looked at where those streams came from, 100% of them came from six playlists on Spotify. It couldn’t be more suspicious: The playlists were created recently; they gained a bunch of followers in one week; they’ve never gained another follower since then; and all the plays happened in a three-day period.”

Furthermore, Posen’s (unknown) sources confirm “three to four percent of global streams are illegitimate streams”. Noting that in a “shared-pool model”, these streams are stealing from artists with legitimate streams.

What Are Fake Streams?

Fake streams come from a variety of mediums including, as Posen describes, “computerized click farms and bots”. Moreover, users can “pay for play”. This might involve buying bulk streams, and purchasing where their streams are coming in from. Similarly, artists or their marketing teams, are willing to pay to have their music added to large scale playlists. Adding to these playlists can increase visibility and initial streaming numbers.

To sum up, in the data age we live in fake Spotify streams don’t seem cost effective. Sometimes, purchasing fake streams could result in getting banned, or having your entire music catalog removed, it really doesn’t seem worth it. All things considered, fake streams only seem to help generate some numbers early on (which is easily traceable as fraudulent), and it will never actually build a true fanbase, or following.