(Hypebot) — With so much value now being put on streaming numbers and social media metrics, the promise of buying followers as a means towards rapid artist growth enticing, but the devastating fallout which can occur as a result usually means it’s not worth the trouble.
Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix
Purchasing fake followers may sound like an easy path to rapid growth, but the potential fallout isn’t worth the risk.
Don’t buy fake followers. That message has echoed throughout social media in the music business for more than a decade. Unfortunately, to this day, artists worldwide continue to buy followers. Some even go as far as to buy fake streams and fake engagement.
The question I always ask is, why? What benefit is there to buying fake followers, streams, or engagement? Do the people who do this believe the rest of us won’t see what’s happening?
The goal of every artist is to forge a lasting connection with fans. Artists want to make the thing they make and connect with people who like what they create. Purchasing fake followers and streams does nothing to accomplish this goal. You can buy 10,000 streams of your new single for less than $50, for example, but you won’t make any money in that scenario.
Buying followers is even worse. People can see right through that. We know if an artist that has never had a hit single or successful tour suddenly has thousands of followers that something is wrong. We know that if you have one song with 1 million plays on Spotify and the rest have barely broken 1000 that you’ve either gone viral on TikTok or you’re actively buying streams. If we look at places where your music is most popular, and every top city is in a country you’ve never visited with fans you don’t try to engage with, it is immediately apparent that you’re trying to pull one over on everyone else.
Even if you can successfully fool ordinary people, you can never trick the algorithms. All Internet companies have spent every year of their existence mining data to understand their audience. The algorithms behind Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are so advanced that they can detect irregular behavior without human intervention. An individual working at those companies does not need to flag your account for the platform to recognize foul play. Algorithms can identify unusual behavior and take steps to correct it. Generally speaking, the means banning an account altogether or shadow-banning them (which drops organic reach to virtually nothing as a means of making future growth impossible.
At this point, it should be clear that purchasing fake engagement of any kind is bad for business. Not only will consumers and the industry at large see through it, but the algorithms that make these platforms run will do everything in their power to prevent you from further growth. Nothing will bring a career to its knees faster than being identified as a fraud outside of public controversy. It’s not worth it.
But what if it’s too late? What if you’ve already purchased fake followers or engagement or streams in the past? Is all hope lost? Of course not!
In the latest Music Biz update, host James Shotwell walks through the case against purchasing fake engagement. He explains how easy it is to fall victim to scams promising rapid growth and even plays footage of so-called click farms. James also advises anyone who has made this mistake in the past. He explains the proper way to reset your standing on the services to ensure you’re able to grow further in your career without the guilt and regret of past decisions. Check it out:
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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.