Music Business

Guide to spotting a fake Spotify playlist

As playlists’ importance and influence in the music biz continues to expand, more and more scammers are creating fake playlists in an effort to con artists.

Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix

In a world where playlists are influencing culture, musicians everywhere are prey for scam artists hoping to make a quick buck.

Spotify playlists are the new music discovery platform. The right placement on a popular playlist can do more to help an artist’s career than a dozen posts on various music blogs could hope to accomplish. TikTok teens using music in their videos might have more influence on certain demographics, but playlists cater to a wider audience and can play a significant role in generating money for artists.

When someone finds a way to make money or have influence, there are always others who see that opportunity as a means to prey on the wishes of the desperate. Far musicians are hoping for playlist placement than there are playlists with great influence. As a result, people create fake playlists to con artists out of money and generate undue revenue for their music. 

Spotify does its best to prevent scam artists from thriving on their platform. Still, with a global user count numbering in the hundreds of millions, there is no way to police every individual’s activity. The good news is, with a keen eye and the tips shared in the video below, anyone can learn to spot fake playlists. Your career, your wallet, and your sanity will thank you.

A few key takeaways:

  • Never, under any circumstance, should you pay money for playlist placement.
  • You should avoid paying for access to playlist curators as well. If you do, you will likely find many people on the list ask for money in exchange for placement. Again, don’t give in. They’re only asking for money because they believe they are owed something for making something that people enjoy that costs them nothing.
  • Watch out for fake followers. When you find a playlist that interests you, click on the profile of the creator. If that person has multiple playlists with roughly the same follower count, that’s a red flag. They may be using fake followers to boost counterfeit streams.
  • Before you contact a curator, watch their performance. Check in over two weeks to see if the follower count changes. Monitor the songs that get added, how often the tracks change, etc.
  • To discern the legitimacy of a playlist’s influence, we recommend using what we call the ‘small artist’ trick. Find a playlist that interests you and search for an artist with a relatively small amount of monthly listeners. Look at that artist’s “About” page to see where their most is most popular. If they’re an artist from the United States, their top cities will likely be somewhere in the Us. If the top cities are remote parts of the world that are unlikely to know the artist, that may indicate that there are fake streams.
  • Speaking of fake streams, fake followers, and how playlist curators use them to get ahead. Using that same small artist, check to see how many plays they’re getting for whatever song is on the playlist that interests you. If the song is only on that playlist and the playlist has 1000 followers, then it shouldn’t generate thousands of plays. Most playlist subscribers don’t stream the same playlist multiple times per month, nor do they typically listen to the entire playlist each time they put it on.

Watch the video for more tips. 

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James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company’s podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.

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