Social media has taken the chase for the fumes of fame to a whole new level of bullshit. After washing through the commercial EDM scene artists buying Facebook fans was exposed by several outfits last summer , faking your popularity for presumed profit is now firmly ensconsced in the underground House Music scene. In early January, I received an email from the head of a digital label. I directed him to our music submission guidelines.
We get somewhere between five and six billion promos a month. Nothing about this encounter was extraordinary. A few hours later, I received his first promo. It was, not to put too fine a point on it, disposable: a bland, mediocre Deep House track. These things are a dime a dozen these days — again, everything about this encounter was boringly ordinary.
But I noticed something strange when I Googled up the track name. Ignoring the poor quality of the track, this is a staggering number for someone of little reputation. Most of his other tracks had significantly fewer than 1, plays. Even stranger, there were only comments — a very low number for a track with so many plays. Stranger still, most of the comments — insipid and stupid even by social media standards — came from people who do not appear to exist.
Am I missing something? Did I jump the gun? How can so many people like something so ordinary? Louie, I believed, was purchasing plays, to gin up some coverage and buy his way into overnight success. Desperate to make an impression in an environment in which hundreds of digital EPs are released every week, labels are increasingly turning toward any method available to make themselves heard above the racket — even the skeezy, slimey, spammy world of buying plays and comments.
Now I do. They have made-up names and stolen pictures, but they rarely match up. These are what SoundCloud bots look like:. There are literally thousands of these.
Most of the comments are hilariously banal, but a few do stand out. Most of them are like this. Louie deleted this track after I contacted him about this story, so the comments are all gone; all of these were preserved via screenshots.
He also renamed his account. But why would someone do this? After leafing through hundreds of followers and compiling these screenshots, I contacted Louie by email with my evidence. His first reply consisted of a sheaf of screenshots of his own — his tracks prominently displayed on the front page of Beatport, Traxsource and other sites, along with charts and reviews.
It seemed irrelevant to me at the time — but pay attention. After reiterating my questions, I was surprised when Louie brazenly admitted that everything implied above is, in fact, true. He is paying for plays. His fans are imaginary. Sadly, he is not a god. In exchange for omitting all reference to his name and label from this story, he agreed to talk in detail about his strategy of gaming SoundCloud, and then manipulating others — digital stores, DJs, even simple fans — with his fake popularity. But why? This is where Louie was most helpful.
And indeed, many of the tracks that he juiced with fake SoundCloud plays were later featured prominently on the front pages of both Beatport and Traxsource — a highly coveted source of promotion for a digital label. He paid Cloud-Dominator. Eclectic tastes, these bots have. This entire technique was manipulated in the early days of MySpace and YouTube, but it also existed before the dawn of the internet.
Offering and using paid promotion services or other means to artificially increase play-count, add followers or to misrepresent the popularity of content on the platform, is contrary to our TOS. None of the incredibly obvious bots I identify here have been deleted. Rest assured, all of them appear prominently in Google searches for related keywords. The visibility in the web jungle is very difficult. For Louie, this is simply a marketing plan. And truthfully, he has history on his side, though he may not know it.
For much of the last sixty years, in form if not procedure, this is exactly how records were promoted. In the s, there were Congressional hearings; radio DJs found guilty of accepting cash for play were ruined. Payola was banned but the practice continued to flourish into the last decade. Payola consists of giving money or benefits to mediators to make songs appear more popular than they are.
But Louie feels he has little choice. Language problems. Went to check you page, was surprised to see so much Garage music! Good quality though. There used to be a time where you had to invest in material, time and needed much dedication to deliver something.
Genres have never been this clear defined in their narrowness because most of it comes right out the same software boxes. And what happened to the fans themselves? Honestly, there used to be a time where people in general could distinguish music from rubbish, but those days are over.
TV, radio and internet, they have over the decades programmed people what they should like. That is why hyping tracks with fake followers etc. Night and day people listen to their devices, they hardly remember what silence is like. The necessary contrast is missing in their digital lives. All these things add up to a zombie population that has no clue which art or music has real value, has soul; and which not.
No doubt. Hi there! Maybe you get thrown a free listen, like or comment by the bots now to make their choices seem more organic? What happens if a really talented group does this after a year of not receiving any public interest? Before Moby Dick was published the book was rejected over and over again by many publishing companies.
It may be silly, but it may be the only shot some real artists have in the industry today. What do you guys think? Nothing wrong with this at all. End of the day as Morgan say it come down to a lil bit o luck,and good record. A bit late to the party but I honestly agree. These trends end up spawning hundreds of copycat producers in a bid to light their own popularity fire on the back of this huge bandwagon and what happens is that real musicians get their content completely drowned out because there is such mass musical blindness that people can be made to believe that they like something.
As a producer myself I solely enjoy just making the music and being over the moon with even a couple new plays or comments because I just want people to enjoy my stuff. At this point, the humans in the industry are still stupider than the bots.
Thank God. This is practically the definition of a pyramid scheme. I dont Agree at all! Sadly Soundcloud is in a poor state these days. It was pretty decent back when it first started out. I think relying on bigger blogs, labels, podcasts and networking in the real world is far more worth than just relying on soundcloud to grow a fan base.
We are past the stage where that is doable, without paying hard cash, which defeats the purpose of obtaining real fans. There are systems where you give comments to other people, and they give it in return, and it creates a cycle of people helping each other. Make good music, sign with labels or start your own, get heard. We need to meet fans half-way and come up with something more pervasive and self-aware, if not better than streaming. Interesting, but did you notice how Baboom, which had this different distribution system with most of the incentives for the artists themselves, silently went offline again?
This is not a free world, whatever people think. Is it possible for someone to apply this shit to your tracks without knowing? I recently put up a track, and in a week it got plays. For me, thats a pretty big number, but I dont think that is what was out of the ordinary. No, what caught my attention was how my plays are now at as of this morning, and counting. I believe now its at ?