New Penalties for Artificial Streaming: What Musicians Need to Know

Recent changes at Spotify, Apple Music and other digital service providers introduce new penalties for artificial streaming. Find out how to navigate these changes and protect your music.

by Randi Zimmerman of Symphonic Blog

In an ongoing effort to ensure the integrity of content on their platforms, many DSPs are updating their review and education processes related to improper activity, and that includes Artificial Streaming. The measures being implemented vary by individual DSP, but are primarily aimed at disincentivizing artificial streaming, as well as imposing penalties on the responsible parties. The intention is to meaningfully deter bad actors that attempt to divert money from honest, hard-working artists like you. In this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about Spotify’s new enforcement penalties and what it means for your content.

New Penalties for Artificial Streaming and How to Stay Safe

Enforcement Penalty Fees

Spotify is implementing a new policy where distributors like Symphonic will be charged an enforcement penalty per track when flagrant artificial streaming is detected on any content distributed by us. That said, we anticipate other DSPs will follow Spotify’s lead and implement similar protocols to combat and disincentivize improper activity on their platforms too.

How are we going to handle these fees? If it happens, we will review and allocate any penalties charged to Symphonic as fairly as possible to the party responsible for supplying that fraudulent content to Symphonic.

“How do I make sure this doesn’t happen to me?”

At the end of the day, our DSP partners want to be able to rely on the content we provide them, and in turn provide non-fraudulent content to the music lovers who consume it. They also want to ensure that legitimate, hardworking creators like you are compensated properly for your work, and that the bad actors who do engage in improper activity are not rewarded for their unfair actions that hurt your legitimate efforts as an artist.

On the other hand, one of the most problematic sources of this kind of fraudulent activity comes from unsuspecting clients through illegitimate music promotion services. The issue runs deeper than just buying streams. Even if you decide to work with a service that claims to be legitimate, they might be using the same illegal methods you’re trying to avoid. — That’s why you should always be extremely wary of third parties that promise you playlist placements or a specific number of streams in exchange for compensation. These services are using illegal bot farms and other methods of artificial streaming that can not only result in the potential removal of streams, but also loss of royalties and even complete removal of your catalog from streaming services.

🚨 Just remember: Paid 3rd-party services that guarantee streams are NOT legitimate. It’s up to you to be aware of scams like these and avoid them.

The bottomline is – don’t put your music at risk!

Our streaming partners, like Spotify, work diligently to ensure streams on their platforms are legitimate, meaning they reflect genuine user listening intent so that the proper content providers are credited and compensated for their hard work. If a service finds that you directly (or indirectly through a third party hired by you or on your behalf) have boosted play counts through any automated, deceptive, fraudulent or other invalid means (digital bots, “click farms”, payment for placement on playlists, etc.), the service has the right to remove the streams from play counts and royalties, and permanently remove your entire catalog, among other remedies available to DSPs and Symphonic.

If you are in the market for a music promotion service, make sure to do your research before you hire them. If you’re unsure what to look into first, check out these helpful resources:

“Will Symphonic terminate my account?”

As this is an evolving update, we’ll continue to provide as many resources as possible to help educate our clients to ensure this doesn’t happen to any innocent parties. However, we will continue to review and track improper activity and take the appropriate measures to rectify situations like these, which could include terminating your account with us. If you intentionally take part in fraudulent activity, we will take action. Terminating your account, included.

To wrap things up…

Symphonic is one of the first members of the Music Fights Fraud Alliance. We are proud of the work we have done for the sake of protecting our clients and their content, and improper activity hurts all of us as an industry. If there is information you think would be helpful in the ongoing review and updating of these policies, please pass it on to us! We take your feedback very seriously and communicate regularly with our DSP partners, industry professionals and even our competitors to see how we can all do a better job at addressing this important issue that impacts us all.

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