You have probably heard of playlist scammers with fake streams and deeply complex scams that take money away from legitimate artists, or got scammed yourself? We’ll show you 10 easy ways on how to detect a fake Spotify playlist so you don’t lose your time, your money, or hurt your chances to be discovered on this powerful platform of 172 million of premium subscribers around the world.
Getting scammed won’t, in any way, contribute positively to your music career. It will most likely make you doubt your success as a musician and make your artistry haul rather bitter than sweet. It will also hurt your algorithms and if Spotify finds out, you won’t be added to any official playlist and you may be removed from those you’ve already been featured on.
What’s more, illicit streams and listeners will mean no real fans coming to your gigs, buying your merch or following your journey on social media; simply because they don’t exist. You may lose both money and time that can be used for something else, such as creating and producing music.
Without further ado, these are the key factors and indicators to look at to detect and avoid scammed playlists.
1. The number of saves and followers in comparison to the streams
When a listener loves a song, they tend to play it once and then again. And then possibly some more. As a result, the number of the song’s streams will always be higher than the number of the playlist’s followers. The opposite is practically impossible.
However, it’s difficult to receive a high number of streams with a very low number of saves and followers. In case you come across a playlist like this, move swiftly to a different one.
2. Followers of the curator account
If you discover a Spotify playlist curator, look into their profile and find suspicious followers with seemingly strange names and no profile pictures, you should be cautious. Double cautious if the profile shows no followers at all.
These are red flags and should give you enough reason to avoid both the curator and the playlist, too.
3. Name and playlist description
The name and description are vital to a playlist and shall give you a clear-cut idea on whether it’s the proper place for your songs to be.
If you spot a playlist with a rather odd name, unrelated to the genre or the mood it targets, and, additionally, with no or ambiguous description, a high level of suspicion should be in place.
4. No official social media or website
See a curator’s name and email address in the playlist description? Great, let’s look this up!
If, by searching for the curator and their contact details on Google, no Facebook, website or any other official information comes up, it’s undeniably a bad sign, indicating an activity of a shady character. Thank you, next!
5. Mixed genres and mood
Heavy metal bands, stirred with some raw rap music, and seasoned with Britpop artists. That doesn’t quite sound like the right music mixture, does it?
If the playlist presents a great variety of genres that seem irrelevant, don’t engage with it. Such a playlist, even if not a bogus one, won’t add any value to your accomplishments and won’t help you find your target audience.
6. Artwork cover and the account’s picture
Visual design plays a crucial role in the music industry. In the case of music playlists, the artwork should call attention to the specific genre, underline its character, or feature some of the musicians listed.
In the case you find a playlist with a random, unspecific and "unappealing" artwork cover, leave it be and search for a different playlist. This rule also applies when the same cover is used for the account’s picture and all of the playlists created by that account. Different playlists should have different art covers!
7. Number of followers on all the account’s playlists
It takes a lot of effort and time for the curator to reach a great amount of playlist’s followers. Even more so if they run multiple playlists.
If you happen to detect a curator that has a high count of followers in all their playlists, with very similar numbers, it’s definitely questionable. Rather stay away and look for another curator.
8. Curator offers a paid placement
The next two points cover indicators to look for when already in contact with a curator. Paid playlist placement is one of them. If a curator directly offers you a paid listing and even sends across detailed pricing with bundles, it’s a no-go.
Not only that such a curator may provide artificial streams but paying to be featured in a playlist is illegal and against Spotify’s policies. Remember that if Spotify detects a streaming fraud, your song or a whole album may be removed from the platform. It’d be better not to take that risk.
9. A curator claims to have a huge network of agencies/curators managing playlists
Some curators may try to lure you in by claiming they have a huge network of agencies or curators managing their playlists. All you have to do is pay and your track will be exclusively promoted. A good deal, isn’t it?
However, the probability that there’s such a network having a unique internal mailing list and using the top promotion tools is rather low. It’s very likely that what you really pay for is some additional streams that might be fake anyway. Curators are here to feature your songs in their playlists and music promotion is traditionally not part of their work. We would therefore stay away from those that offer such services.
10. Watch out: the playlist CAN be found in the ‘Discovered On’ on the artist’s profile
We’ve read in a number of articles stating that a fake playlist won’t appear on the Artist’s ‘Discovered On’ feature. Unfortunately, this is not true, we have seen multiple instances where fake playlists are shown.
In our experience, the fake playlist operates on paid followers and the curator will run bots to create the streams, therefore, you will find it on your ‘Discovered On’ unless, or until Spotify uncovers it. For this reason, we believe the ‘Discovered On’ section is not a good indicator to rely on.
...and it’s not so great.
Available for free, this tool will give you some data on the streams played from the playlist you choose and should help you recognize if the playlist is of any benefit to your numbers.
But, as mentioned above, a fake playlist can run bots to stream the tracks and so the site can’t really tell you if it’s an organic playlist or a fake one. Though helpful as an additional support tool, don’t use it as a guarantee of the playlist’s authenticity.
Real Example: Janus Global
We stumbled upon an example of a curator that could scream “fake” from the rooftops.
As you can see, already the name, “Janus Global”, sounds suspicious. It’s rather random and ambiguous and the account has no description whatsoever.
The same artwork design is applied across all playlists, including the user’s cover picture. Despite there being no information here that directly shows the number of followers and followings, all three playlists have a suspiciously similar “like-count” of approximately 50,000.
Janus Global Spotify Profile
The playlists themselves have odd names, not specific to any genre or mood. There is too great a mixture of unrelated genres in the playlists, which isn also a red flag, in our opinion.
Playlist "Next Big Thing for 2022" by Janus Global on Spotify
Lastly, we decided to look up the user and their email address on Google. We found no social presence, outside of the Spotify profile, for this user's details. This profile couldn't get more suspicious.
We were very curious to see whether Spotify would take down the user and, within a few days, their profile had disappeared from the platform. Unfortunately, accounts like this often come back just as fast as they are removed. This curator has created a new playlist under a slightly different name, “Janus Audio”, but the contact information stays the same and the cover artwork also looks very similar to the previous account.
Playlist "Fresh Vibes" by Janus Audio on Spotify
And, as this fake playlist provides fake streams, it’s easily found in the ‘Discovered on’ of the artists featured on the playlist. In the screenshot below, we believe all of the playlists shown are "fake".
Fake Spotify playlists featured on 'Discovered On'
We’ve just covered a few factors that can help you distinguish a fictitious Spotify playlist from an organic one.
As of the second quarter of 2021, Spotify remains the most-subscribed music streaming service, owning 31% of the market. It’s therefore important to acknowledge that organic playlists on Spotify can be absolutely crucial to your artistic prosperity and will enhance your achievements. However, it’s just as crucial to understand that a fake playlist will hinder, rather than, support your success and the risk of being listed in these playlists is not worth taking.
Moreover, as enticing as it sounds, don’t get drawn by some strange ‘specialized’ companies offering you streams. It is the same trap and won’t get you any far in your career. You can read more about the danger of fake streams here!
Finally, if you want to know what other ways there are to gain more followers and streams on Spotify, other than playlist placements, you can also read our article on Spotify promotion!
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