Musicians Accused Of Buying 'Fake' Fans Online

Major artists could be outed in a report this year which accuses them of buying fake Facebook fans and YouTube views, but it seems that musicians large and small have been taking part in the dark side of social media.

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Some musicians are buying thousands of fake YouTube views and followers on social networks like Twitter and Facebook, it has been revealed.

The act of buying social follower counts is not new, but one company who tracks artist data called Next Big Sound is warning that it will reveal a list of artists who have been dabbling in the practice in a report later this year.

The BBC has found that artists can buy up to 10,000 YouTube views for as little as £30, with similar prices available for fake social followers and even fake comments to make a band look more popular than they really are.

It is not the first time that artists have been busted for boosting social counts. In December, YouTube removed up to 2 billion views from three major labels after it found that many of them was fake views from a group of 500 accounts over one month, according to Pocket-lint.

And in September, several major label artists lost tens of thousands of followers when it was revealed that up to 8.7% of their followers were spam accounts, according to Music Week.

It might be easy to buy fake views and followers, but be warned: your account could be blocked if you're caught.

"Twitter reserves the right to immediately terminate your account without further notice," warns Twitter. Facebook says you should walk away if you're offered fake followers, and YouTube says that it could terminate your account if it finds out you have been buying fake views.

What's your opinion? Should artists work hard to build a following by themselves, or do they need a little boost up the ladder when they're starting out? Post your thoughts in the comments.

117 comments sorted by best / new / date

    kcmoon5150
    Wow. A band must truly suck if they must resort to buying fake fans.
    Camron62\m/
    or a pop mainstream artist, like most of them already.
    Trowzaa
    That doesn't even make sense. Surely a mainstream pop artist has lots of fans, which is why they're mainstream. But of course METAL IS TEH BR00TZ.
    spiff-corgi
    It's not really about a band sucking, it's about people in boardrooms knowing they can get a larger paycheck if they cheat the number of views on a video.
    TJWhonley
    besides, i swear you would earn more than 30 for 10000 youtube hits anyway. its like a way of exploiting life?
    moody git
    as far as i know, the views count as mobile views. they aren't monetized, but you can still get on the front page and show up in searches more etcetc
    -Retro-
    This is EXACTLY why the Billboard Hot 100 can't rely on Youtube views.
    RJDfan666
    Anybody else hate it when you're taking a dump and you think you've got a nice solid log comin out, but then it breaks off into little shitballs and splashes toilet water up into your ass?
    Rob Man
    Tell me about it. Sometimes after I make my homemade chili, I spray shit all over the back of the toilet like a damn sprinkler the next day. *We should start a support group.
    Innercelph
    You know when you got diarrhea, but it doesn't hurt when it comes out? So satisfying man...
    rocker222
    I hate when i try to make a perfect log circling the toilet, and it breaks off.....
    dsteff
    I hate those corkscrew shits...when its flowin great and then u drop the log and theres an explosion out of ur ass hole that just feels like it will be a multi wiper
    TJ1991
    It's a totally pointless exercise anyway. I'd rather have 10 true fans than a million who either don't exist or couldn't care less. It's just another way for the big labels to con stupid people into buying into commoditised music - the whole "this is popular, therefore it must be good, therefore I like it" attitude. It makes me sick, but it's also utterly laughable, and makes anyone caught doing it look really stupid.
    rocker222
    I'll be your fan
    Plagueheart
    Names of the artists guilty of this. Now.
    Shaggy91
    Right? nothing worse than public shame
    lemmon182
    True, it works. They did it to me when I had a wank at school. Never did it again.
    N7Crazy
    What's so controversial about wanking? Don't all teenagers do that, or am I still in the 50's?
    iommi600
    I remember being 13 or 14 years old, when my cousin got caught wanking with the toilet paper roll. Other cousins nearly killed him with all the bullying, since my uncle decided to spread the word. Oh, back in the days... I also never took a dump at his house again.
    phunkmunkey
    What's your opinion? Should artists work hard to build a following by themselves.....to ****in right no band should be gifted anything straight off unless they deserve it
    ianharv
    It's all PR in a label's eyes. Faking things to make them look better is 95% of the commercial music industry, nothing new really. You can do it with almost anything. I've been buying Ultimate Guitar up-votes for years. I've run out of money.
    coffinpilot
    S express worked hard back in the day , going into record shops and buying their own singles to get a No 1 !!!!
    rolandroi
    only for 30? HAHA i'd pay them to make my songs about dog shits and sweaty ball sacks with multiple voice cracks get some notice. Imagine what other would think. Badass trolling worth of 30.
    terminalprp
    In my local scene I've seen evidence that some bands have done this (really? You just went up by over 1,000 fans in a day without playing a show or releasing a song?). My philosophy is that every moment you spend focusing on how popular you appear to be is a moment you could be spending crafting a better f***ing song. Music isn't about how successful you get, it's about what you produce to earn that success. Just my two cents.
    sonofgkex
    Yeah, no question. I guess most people just feel more comfortable approving of something that has already been approved of by a lot of others. It's sad that less people are willing to think for themselves. Also, creating something new requires a certain willingness to depart from the normal or safe path. This quality seems to be getting more rare as time goes on.
    CelestialGuitar
    A band I was involved in a while ago before Celestial Wish got going was guilty of buying Facebook fans by the thousands, one of the main reasons I left to focus on CW, it's brilliant to see that artists who've 'cheated', so to speak, will be brought into the public eye, hopefully it'll discourage local bands who buy fans to seem more popular! Of course, for unsigned bands, it becomes obvious when they have 10000 facebook fans, and 50 plays on Reverbnation!
    hotdogs585
    I like the people who found out their new favorite musician's fans were fake, then changed their minds about liking them AFTER the fact. "Oh wow this band is awesome they have at least 10,000 followers...oh wait they're fake fans. I no longer like their music."
    rebreh
    No robot should ever be subjected to repeatedly hearing "Call Me Maybe" a thousand times. That is just damn cruel
    spiff-corgi
    This epitomises how music is about business now. What's the point of having a bot fan? How does that benefit you? Yeah, you're really getting your music out there, to accounts that don't exist. Get you, thousands of no one is listening to your song.
    ne14t
    I can't believe how many people put so much worth on social media, like seriously your willing to pay money for fake fans? Surely you must know your music must really suck balls or something if you have to resort to something so weird. I mean do those likes on Facebook or views on YouTube really mean anything?
    GuitardudeDK
    I dont really see the problem in this.. It's just a way to get noticed i suppose, and seeing as social media is the new thing, i reckon it's fine. Oh, and if you have a small penis, likes and views make up for that aswell.
    chrishoulton
    It's wrong..but it gets bands big... My last band was in a competition to play at download festival, it was all about "online presence" the more times your video was viewed on Youtube, the bigger chance you had of winning. We got to number 1 one week by using cheats and proxies refreshing the Youtube page, the band who won however- it turns out had been doing that for some time before the competition... Now that band has real fans and are huge because of cheating and buying fake fans... There's no "real" way to make it any more unfortunately...
    the_white_bunny
    man how behind can people be? that was a scam on myspace 5 years ago. that, and you embedded the music player into messages and comments and you got plays anytime anyone opened your message or went to the page the code was on. just wait till you guys get rid of your dial up and get cable internet..... the things you will catch up on.
    fras1788
    If you didn't know that this has been, and is currently happening in music, and this is new to you...you need to re-evaluate your life. Everything in today's society is fake, in order to find good music you must look beyond mainstream. Look into older underground metal bands, and then find similar artists using Spotify or something. Thats what i do. I put in work to find good new artists...rather than listen to the cookie cutter bullshit on the radio
    lVlaniac
    They can buy all the fans they want its a free economy, but views don't mean the music is good, and if it isnt then i wont buy your album and at the end you are just going loose money.
    westley23j
    political figures do it all the time. why arent they getting attention for stuff like this?
    sambalici
    A couple of years ago, when Myspace was still active, most of the independent metal labels had this "Myspace friend number" criteria (maybe they still have): you had to have a myspace friend count above a certain number to be taken seriously, most of them would ask you first "how many friends do you have in myspace?". And because of this situation most of the bands would go to "Myspace hunting" and they would add as much as random people to their friend list, to make look numbers bigger. I think this the reason of these fake number issue, and probably situation is a lot worse now. I blame labels, managers, organizers, etc. more than those artists, because these social media standards are absurd.
    agentapathy
    if youtube taught us anything, it's the fact that the good ones are found not shown.
    munkybusiness
    Digital age. It never stops. I'd probably be more concerned with writing a decent record then pretending people like the shite ones I'm faking hits on.
    jpcl
    Psy must be at the top of this list
    hotdogs585
    dave grohl sucks
    jpcl
    No, dave is great, Psy sucks. People might find it funny and all, but if we're really going to grade it as good music, people are losing their minds and just being plain stupid.
    Pit_
    Jimi Hendrix bought his own debut records with mafia money to get played on the radio as the hottest new selling artist. I say this is fair, social networks are a tool. It is the responsability of the chart makers to NOT consider the phoney stuff.
    C19B19
    This is happening all over! In my local scene its clear that a lot of bands are buying their Facebook fans. I know a few bands that literally have thousands of likes, but get next to no comments/likes on anything they do. My band has nowhere near the amount of likes, but we get 20 times the interaction, and are actively involved with our fans, and are getting more real fans everyday. The satisfaction of this and the fact that we are actually achieving a following on our own is why I would never consider bumping up the numbers with fake accounts, as its fake success and in reality doesnt actually do anything.
    PsiGuy60
    1. This has been going on since the dawn of social media. HOW ARE PEOPLE ONLY SEEING IT NOW. 2. Honestly if you can't get views without buying them you probably suck. Heck, I have 11 subscribers on YouTube without ever releasing a video.
    Dutch_Apples
    There's a young female singer I did a show with who posted on Facebook bragging that her music video just got 10,000 views in a week. When I checked it. There were a little over 10,000 views and NO comments. Something doesn't add up there! Especially fishy considering she doesn't perform live very often and has almost NO experience.
    caged butterfly
    Some people wouldn't even look at your video unless you look like Justin Beiber or if you don't already have 100,000 views already. I can see why people would do this in the beginning. But there should be a point were they stop.
    headbang123
    Most people I know (self included) don't listen to bands based on Facebook likes or Youtube veiws. They listen to it cause they like it.
    jordo246
    But the majority of people think the pinnacle of life is Facebook likes or Youtube hits therefore they think it must be amazing if it has over a million views. It's really sad.
    SHaun Steel
    Pretty pathetic if you ask me, it's a sad day indeed when you have to buy your own popularity.
    j-e-f-f-e-r-s
    That's the way it's always been. What do you think publicists, advertisers and marketers do for a living? You think the Rolling Stones never had their own PR staff? Or Rush? Or any other band to ever make it famous?
    jukejointjohnny
    People question the worth of fake fans on FB/Youtube etc, but when you're a local band starting out, it can mean the difference between getting booked at various venues when the venue sees you have 10,000+ 'likes' etc. Happens all the time round where I live. The bands with the money, or more often, the rich parents, get all the good gigs, yet when you attend the gig, there's barely anyone there watching them. We have a fairly large music venue in the city that gets big name acts come through, and the ONLY way to get the local band support slot is to pay the venue owners a four-figure sum. It's a total fiddle and unfair on bands that are legitimately making the effort.
    Metalhead09z
    they should really start uncovering all the spam business that revolves around getting Youtube views.
    j-e-f-f-e-r-s
    I'm not surprised. When you look at how quickly many mainstream artists rack up the views, I always thought there was an element of view spamming going on. Now, that said, while I certainly don't think this is a particularly noble endeavour, I'm having a pretty hard time getting too worked up about it. Guess what? In today's industry, you need to get noticed. If a band can spend $30 to push their online views up, then I don't see how that's particularly worse than spending money on flyers or posters or other forms of promotion. To people saying "OMG real musicians focus on writing good tunes, not shit like this" It's not an either/or decision here. A band could spend all their time focusing on writing good tunes, and still decide to pay to get their Youtube hits up somewhat. It's never just about the music. If you actually want to survive and keep making music in this current climate, you need exposure. Musicians have got bills to pay, just like everyone else. I'm getting tired of people buying into this "All that matters is the music" mantra that the likes of Dave grohl peddle. You know what? It would be ****ing nice if bands found success based on nothing but how true they are to the spirit of music, but that's simply not the case, and hasn't been for decades. Led Zeppelin got famous due to how famously aggressive their manager and publicist team were. Sabbath got huge because their PR team did everything short of illegal behaviour to get them exposure. Even Dave Grohl, Mr "Spirit of Rock and Roll" is signed to a major label, has got his own team of publicists and marketers working for the Foo Fighters, and spends his free time presenting Chelsea Lately. Social networks are a tool, and musicians need to use them in order to get exposure and reach new fans. While this is hardly the sort of behaviour we'd like to see in the music industry, at the end of the day, all it's doing is trying to get musical acts more exposure. You may not like the musicians in question, but subjectivity is a wonderful thing.
    awsomebadas5
    id be good if they wrote the names of the bands who did this that way they can feel the shame of their actions
    lank81
    No surprise here. They pay for Radio play so why not Youtube Views, Facebook Likes, and Twitter followers? There are enough sheep in the world that they'll get back 10 fold of what they pay out, unfortunately.
    BigHeadClan
    If people only use this service to get noticed then I don't really see a big issue with this, 1000's of videos appear daily and you video can very easily be buried with no one ever seeing it no matter how good you may be. People who abuse it I think should be punished, but really this is nothing more than advertising that people are investing in to get started.
    Way Cool JR.
    That's pretty damn sad IMO, but doesn't surprise me in the slightest. I think some normal everyday people are also doing this with non music related videos to help them go viral. Answer to the question asked: The people need to earn their views and fans. They just need to advertise themselves better and if people like them the word will spread.
    Revolution_87
    I know that local unsigned acts do that here, Some bands with tens of thousands of followers and when you go to a gig their playing only 20-30 odd people turn up....same as us on a bad day but I'm glad we have the integrity not to use mummy and daddy's money to buy fake fans to soothe our ego. We might only have a few hundered on social networks but we worked damn hard to get them and to ensure they enjoy being a fan of the band. So I say out all these fakes and let everyone around the world laugh at their stupidity and their insatiable appetite for attention
    ibanez124
    It's hilarious when you play a live show with a local band with thousands of likes, and they sell 0 tickets
    CHKNLPZ
    I get this but more and more these days kids just don't seem to wanna go to shows, even if they're free!
    kozmo4200
    Its really dumb but i could care less. Just because one video has 20 million views doesnt make me want to watch it. My friends showed me the stupid gangam shit and i just didnt get it. Also if a band has every person in the world as a fan that doesnt make me want to purchase their material.
    Hops44
    Not really surprising after hearing that authors can pay a company to buy large quantities of their book in order to make the bestseller list. I say release the names and scare artists into actually working hard to build a legitimate fanbase.