Spotify is full of fake streams – or is it? Our newest podcast

The late Michael K. Williams hosts Vice’s Black Market, which delved into the seedy world of “underground creek farms” in season 2.

Can you really trust the play counts on Spotify, Apple Music or YouTube? To find out, we interviewed the CEO of a company that is developing a sophisticated way of validating game counts on major streaming platforms. The answer to our question was surprising.

The Digital Music News Podcast is available on iTunes, Spotify, stapler, and other podcast platforms. Or just listen to the embed below.

After a series of “fake stream” scandals involving megastars like French Montana and G-Eazy, a serious question has emerged in the music industry: how realistic are Spotify’s stream counts? After those scandals, Vice went underground and discovered a shady network of “underground stream farms” that fabricate watch counts, raising serious questions about Spotify’s numbers.

The late Michael K. Williams, who took over Vice’s investigation fallstated that “the entire industry has been compromised” and that “music artists are faking their way to the top of the charts”.

But how corrupt are the streaming numbers on Spotify – or Apple Music, Amazon Music and YouTube too?

On this edition of the Digital Music News Podcast, we posed that question to Legitary, a company that spent years developing a sophisticated way of checking music stream counts. By comparing streaming activity across platforms and monitoring billions of streams in total, Legitary can spot anything out of the ordinary – including fake streams.

But instead of an image of shady fake streams and manipulated chart positions, Legitary’s Nermina Mumic offered a very different take.

Legitary, an Austrian technology company that emerged from university research, has a growing clientele of large content owners. The statistical validation offered by Legitary allows companies to examine game totals that show unusual anomalies based on statistical analysis across all DSPs.

Sometimes these anomalies can be explained quickly. In other cases, they reveal serious issues like missing metadata, reporting errors, or even outright scams and fake streams.

But after Nermina scanned more than 250 billion streams, its assessment of the stream count landscape was unlike Vice’s shoddy report. It turns out that streaming scams are just part of a far more complex story.

Here is our interview.

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