Pascal Bittard on Fake Streams for Music Business Worldwide

by Pascal Bittard
Last month, Music Business Worldwide published IDOL's opinion piece on the fake stream phenomenon currently causing a stir in the music industry. Pascal Bittard gives a distributor's point of view in light of the recent CNM report.

Fake streams are nothing new, but the recordings business is only just waking up to the scale of the practice. As discussions in France around measures to prevent streaming manipulation continue, the fallout of a government-commissioned report from The Centre National de la Musique (CNM), has ignited concern.

Data collated from Spotify, Deezer and Qobuz suggests more than a billion plays (or between 1% and 3% of the country’s total streams) were fraudulent in 2021.

These are deceptively small margins but, as calculated by MBW, would equate to over a $500m global revenue loss if extended to the worldwide music market. Yet this figure only covers the activity we know about, with more advanced forms of manipulation likely to be slipping under the radar.

According to the report, more than 80% of detected fraudulent activity takes place within the longtail of France’s streams. This is mostly referring to background music and non-musical titles directed at passive listeners where manipulation techniques are often basic and it’s easy to farm royalties.

But more sophisticated, harder-to-detect techniques are at play higher up the food chain, some even taking place amongst France’s top 200 artists.

This frontline manipulation might include replaying tracks in full rather than churning through 31-second snippets, with seasoned fraudsters gradually bumping up streams across platforms making sure to keep in line with an artist’s fanbase size and market share of each DSP to evade suspicion.

Read the complete op-ed on Music Business Worldwide published on March 20, 2023

Going further

Read Pascal Bittard’s opinion column about the user centric’s payment system.
Read Pascal Bittard’s reaction to the creation of Music Fights Fraud

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