If you’re active on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve most likely been bombarded by ads promising guaranteed playlist placements and increased streams from fly-by-night promotion “companies”..

These services are usually incredibly cheap [$19.99 seems to be the most common price point] and guarantee results to ANYONE, without even listening to your music beforehand..

So how do these companies actually work?

And how do they guarantee playlist placements and generate streams on your track?

Well in today’s blog I thought we’d pull back the curtain and show you..

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First of all, these $19.99 companies don’t actually work with independent curators.

This means if you purchase a ‘campaign’, you’ll simply be added to playlists owned by the promotion company themselves – that’s how they can guarantee that you’ll be placed on X amount of playlists for a set fee.

And when it comes to the actual followers on these playlists, they’re almost always 100% bot generated.

This means the promotion company will create thousands of fake Spotify users and then use software to make these users follow their playlists in bulk.

Luckily, botted followers on a playlist can usually be easily identified by looking at the follower history from Spotify’s API data:

In the above image [taken from a clearly botted playlist], we can see major fluctuations in the follower count over a period of just 30 days.

In fact, this playlist lost a whopping 12,000 followers in just 24 hours, then gained over 6,000 new followers just 24 hours later.

So what’s happened here?

Well, Spotify most likely removed the fake accounts that followed this playlist due to suspicious activity, and the playlist owner simply replaced them with new botted followers straight away.

The wild swings in the follow stats above are even more striking when compared to the image below, which shows the follower data from a Drop© verified playlist:

We can see small fluctuations of 1-3 followers per day [which would be expected for a playlist of this size], and a gradual, organic increase in followers over the same 30 day period.

This follower history, combined with thousands of other data points covering streams, saves, follows and audience geolocation can be used to verify playlists, and is exactly what the clever API monitoring system does here at Drop©.

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Now back to our fake playlists..

Once the playlists have been loaded with phony followers, it’s time for the promo company to start adding streams to your track to make their promotion & playlists look genuine.

And as you’ve probably guessed, these streams are going to be just as fake as the followers!

There are many different software packages available for boosting streams, but they all operate on the same principle.

First, they’ll add thousands of IP addresses to the software to try and fool Spotify’s detection system [this makes it look like the fake plays are coming from different listeners / devices / countries].

Then, they’ll simply run the software to auto-play every song on their playlist for 30+ seconds [the time required to count as a stream] on repeat.

You can see an example of a typical streaming bot below:

Unfortunately for the fake playlist companies [and the artists who pay them], Spotify’s detection system is incredibly complex and will, more often than not, pick up on these fake streams and remove the songs in question from the platform.

In fact, distributors like Tunecore and DistroKid receive thousands of take-down notifications from Spotify every month caused by fake playlist promotion companies.

For those lucky enough to avoid a take-down by Spotify, there is still a big price to pay for landing on these botted playlists..

If you read our BaRT & Spotify blog [available here], you’ll know the data that’s built around your song by Spotify’s algorithm is crucial to your success on the platform.

And trust us when we say that the data that these phony playlists generate causes absolute MAYHEM with Spotify’s algorithm, affecting how many times your song is recommended to new listeners, your Related Artists tab, Discover Weekly, Release Radar and any hope of being picked up by editorial lists in the future..

TL:DR: it’s simply not worth it!

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So the next time you see that ad promising guaranteed Spotify promotion for a ridiculously low fee, you’ll know exactly what’s on offer [fake streams & untold damage to your Spotify data].

And remember, 1,000 streams from real, engaged listeners is ALWAYS worth infinitely more than 100,000 streams from bots.

Got any questions? Feel free to get in touch at artists@wearedrop.io [we’re always happy to offer FREE advice and pinky promise not to hit you with any schmoozy sales talk], or hit us up on IG!

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Drop© is a digital music promotion platform powered by API technology.

We connect artists with a global network of verified playlist curators reaching over 10m combined listeners, including some of the biggest new music platforms and tastemakers on the planet.

To protect the artists we work with, Drop© uses intelligent API monitoring to ensure every release reaches real listeners and operates in full compliance with every major streaming platform.

Learn more here!