Sampling The Loopholes

Internet music promotion is becoming an industry in itself; there are plenty of guides to promoting your music online, and many sites that stream your tunes to a worldwide audience. Social proof is an important factor in establishing credibility, but on the Web it can be all too easy to fake the books…

According To The Script

There are quite a few bands with MySpace pages. Dozens, in fact. Most of them have been only viewed by bandmembers or friends thereof, but you will find many bands that have millions of ‘friends’, despite the fact that no-one has ever heard of them.

Although gradually becoming less effective, there are many easily-obtainable programs that exploit loopholes in stats reporting – particularly stats that are not guarded by significant security mechanisms. Play counts and friending fall into this category. Wired has an article considering the use and impact of such trickery – it seems you may fool the casual observer with inflated figures, but you’re unlikely to put one over on a label or talent scout.

From Friends to Fans

But why would one want to artificially boost one’s play counts or fan numbers? Well, social proof is actually a very powerful thing – if a band seems to be popular with a lot of people, then newcomers are more likely to want to know about it. It follows that if a band has no plays or fans, then one is automatically inclined to assume they must be no good.

I had an in-depth look at the notion of social proof in music consumption patterns in an earlier post.

Music Calculations

Appearances are actually very important in music promotion. In fact, given the fact that there are so many good bands making good music, the thing that really makes the difference is how well you promote yourself – once you have attained a certain baseline level of musical craftsmanship and professional production values, that is.

Therefore, anything that can give a band an edge is going to be explored by someone – especially when it can be done relatively easily. Here’s an excerpt from two years ago:

Paul Lamere points out some shady manipulation of track play counts on itunes. Many social music recommendation sites link into iTunes data, but it appears that such data are easily modified. One user’s play history totalled over 30 years of 24/7 listening, which seems highly…unlikely.

Lamere provides a link to Doug’s Applescripts – a small script was written there which automatically sets the play count to 250,000. While this is great for artist promotion, it does reduce the usefulness of certain metrics and recommendation structures for the general user.

Brian Hazard has a few more observations on this area over at his Passive Promotion blog, which is well worth checking out…


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