Did Billboard & O Music Awards Get Suckered By Fake YouTube Views?
Last week writers for both Billboard.com and the O Music Awards blog wrote about BAKER, a Harvard man and pop hopeful with 5 million YouTube views who could only get an audience of 30 at Webster Hall. Though the low profile of BAKER beyond social media did not seem to raise further questions for either writer, the possibility that BAKER bought social media support is worth further investigation.
Though I hadn't heard of BAKER, he has had some press coverage and has a number of videos on YouTube with substantial views. The music video below for "Not Gonna Wait" was posted on YouTube 5 months ago and earlier today had 4,949,868 views.
BAKER – Not Gonna Wait
Fellow Harvard man Zachary Sniderman, writing for O Music Awards blog, [ed: erroneously referred to as MTV Hive when first posted] doesn't seem phased by the discrepancy between a pop video with almost 5 million views and an audience of "about 30 people at his concert in the basement studio of New York’s Webster Hall." He addresses it as a problem to be solved.
David Greenwald, writing for Billboard.com, simply reports what's given at face value. He clearly missed out on the benefits of a live performance and so might not have reason to more deeply investigate a topic to which he was assigned.
Yet 5 million views of a music video from a relatively unknown artist is something worth looking at more closely given that this is the era of paid social media followings.
The stats for Not Gonna Wait have been disabled but, since YouTube no longer publicly displays top countries for viewership, it would have shown a chart over time of viewership that might have revealed a sudden spike and demographics by age that might have revealed some related oddities.
YouTube Stats for All I'm Gonna Say
What you will find if you go back and check the stats for videos posted one to two years ago on BAKER's YouTube channel , such as the above stats for "All I'm Gonna Say," that his primary audience has been from the Phillipines, Malaysia and India with one video, "No No [Audio]," adding Australia.
Age-related demographics indicated that top viewers were:
- Female, 13-17 years
- Male, 35-44 years
- Male, 45-54 years
One video, "Wonderall," has all female groups for top demographics.
While there are some plausible explanations for the odd dominance of certain age groups, the regional sources of viewers do raise the possibility of paid YouTube views. Otherwise the fact that his audience is dominated by an Asian audience would be newsworthy and would also help explain his lack of real world audience in New York. Though if he had a strong following among those nationalities on social media, he would also be likely to have a following among students and expats from those countries in the U.S. as well.
Twitter Follower Anaylsis of @BAKERmusic by Status People
Another interesting piece of the puzzle is the makeup of his Twitter following. According to Status People's Fake Follower Check, the Twitter following for @BAKERmusic has only a small percentage of possibly "Fake" accounts but a surprisingly large percentage of "Inactive" accounts.
Inactive followers could be individuals that only follow the news but such a high number of Inactive accounts bears further investigation. If you try out the tool yourself, you'll have to follow specific accounts to get these stats.
Taken as a whole, these various bits of information raise the possibility that BAKER did indeed buy his social media following. They don't constitute proof but they do raise the necessity of further investigation in any coverage based on videos views as a validation measure. And they also illustrate some of the first steps one would take in such an investigation.
BAKER's coverage at Billboard.com and on the O Music Awards blog shows, in part, the validating power of putting out a professional product and of high video views. If BAKER's work was more at the level of Al Walser's, warning bells would have been more likely to sound.
But if it becomes clear that BAKER's social media following was bought and paid for, then we may also see the power of web exposure to undermine such a brand.
- Instead Of Building A Fake Following On Twitter, Why Not Build A Fanbase?
- Are EDM Artists Buying Facebook Fans? DJ Excision Speaks Out On Controversy
- Brian Hazard: YouTube’s Dirty Little Secret
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (Twitter/App.net) blogs about music crowdfunding at Crowdfunding For Musicians (@CrowdfundingM). To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.