By Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver.fm.
Some artists have been complaining about the royalties paid out by online streaming services like Rdio and Spotify (which depend on record label deals), and also about what they get from streaming radio services (even though the U.S. government mostly sets those).
But at least one band has inadvertently discovered how to climb up the charts and earn a bit more cash from streaming services.
It’s simple: Their fans, apparently self-organized on a grassroots level, put together a social media campaign to encourage the band’s fans to listen to the same song by said band, on repeat, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on Spotify and Rdio.
The band in question is Fifth Harmony, and their fans are called Harmonizers. This is their jam:
By crunching the numbers, Paul Lamere of MusicMachinery (and director of developer platform for The Echo Nest, publisher of Evolver.fm) determined that one song, “Miss Movin’ On,” was an “extreme outlier” in terms of having a passionate fan base. He had measured the passion fans have for certain songs by determining the number of plays each song had per user, over the summer of 2013. “Miss Movin’ On” stood out by a big margin.
What was it about Fifth Harmony’s “Miss Movin’ On” was arousing such passionate, borderline obsessive listening behavior?
What was it about this song that made people listen to it over and over and over again?
As Lamere discovered through a simple Twitter search, many of the listens he’d spotted were part of a concerted effort on the part of fans of the group to boost the popularity of “Miss Movin’ On” by listening to it on repeat in Spotify, Rdio, and in other places.
Here’s one of many examples:
— 5H Updates (@5HonTour) September 12, 2013
Lamere posted extensive research into the effect of this behavior on the song in the charts, concluding that a few hundred Fifth Harmony fans were able to boost the song’s chart position by around 300 spots.
“Fans and shills need to simple play a song on autorepeat across a a few hundred accounts to boost the chart position of a song,” writes Lamere. “Fifth Harmony proves that if you have a small, but committed fan base, you can radically boost your chart position for very little cost.”
It’s amusing that some extreme fans of a pop music group managed to game the system like this, and it’s not like they broke a law. Compared to what other organizations get up to online, it’s not a huge deal.
Still, it could lead to more serious shenanigans, if more groups get their listeners similarly organized. Streaming services have to pay for these listens, even if the song plays on repeat throughout several nights in hundreds of homes with all the speakers on mute.
(Photo courtesy of Flickr/Disney | ABC Television Group)