Streaming platforms have gained their popularity since they emerged on the market. They’ve made the independent musician’s distribution much easier.
These days you don’t have to worry about distribution because you can simply sign up with tunecore and be well on tour way to reaching a global audience.
Anybody that is a musician has at one point or another wondered whether it’s illegal to stream your own music or not.
The fact is, streaming your own music is not illegal, however doing so to boost or manipulate your streaming numbers is illegal and can lead to your music being removed from streaming platforms. This can lead to not being able to re-distribute your music.
Fraudulent streaming behavior has severe consequences that will put an artist at a disadvantage. Streaming platforms will not pay the user once it is determined that they are employing manipulative tactics to boost streams.
Streaming your own music
Streaming your own music for the purpose of pleasure of listening is not illegal because you have the right to do so.
Most people do this but the problem comes in when you intentionally use methods and tactics to boost your streaming numbers.
Therefore you as the musician have to trade lightly because once you get wrapped up in suspicious fraudulent streaming intentionally or unintentionally, you’ll lose access to streaming platform distribution which will negatively affect your income.
Distribution services like tunecore may go as far as completely closing your account and withholding all your funds, in the event that they determine use of fraudulent streaming practices.
Tunecore specifically states that:
“You should be aware that Streaming Manipulation may be the result of the actions of a third party, such as a promotion or marketing company, record label or music distributor, acting on behalf of an artist or on its own behalf. You are encouraged to investigate and vet any companies or individuals you may enlist, retain, or employ to promote or market your music, as you may be liable for Streaming Manipulation perpetrated by a third party on your behalf. For the avoidance of doubt, any Streaming Manipulation done by a third party on your behalf or that relates to your Recordings is a violation of these Terms of Service.”
Streaming Platform Best practices
When you stream your own music, do so ethically. Don’t have your album on repeat for months because the streaming platform will take notice of this and may flag your account. This can lead to you music being removed.
Streaming your own music is definitely legal and no streaming platform will take that right from away from you. My advice is that you stick to streaming your music normally and don’t fall any techniques to try and push your numbers high so you can get more funds.
Various manipulative tactics exist that would promise you higher numbers and this has become a growing problem for streaming platforms.
The right way to go about your marketing is using organic methods like social media promotion, ads etc.
Going off platform to promote your music can be a great way to reach people and the reality is that most of the success that artists see on streaming platforms is from the work they did and do off the platform.
So rely more on building the brand off the platforms because an organic following will get to your music so long as you can point them towards it.
Stay away from “guaranteed” streams from unscrupulous curators because it will most likely be people using click farms to artificially boost your streams.
Why Artists Should be cautious about streaming fraud
Faking stats will do more harm than good to your career as an artist and you should always employ organic and approved methods of promotion.
Buying streams or other manipulative tactics are basically the same as stealing an artists music and uploading it as your own, in order to illegally have at their income.
One of the most common tactics utilized nowadays is paying to be playlisted. The playlist Curators usually promise the artist a certain amount of streams, followers etc. Most of these illegal third parties use manipulation and fraud to pump up an artists streams which is highly illegal.
Streaming platforms are certainly aware of these illegal activities and have safeguards around them to ensure that perpetrators don’t fake streams for pay.
There are various technologies employed by streaming platforms like Spotify to be able to detect irregular streaming behaviour. Other than that, heavy manual review is also a practice that is relied on because human beings are well equipped to be able to spot the real from the fake.
These efforts by streaming platforms are basically geared toward detecting fraudulent behaviour and basically removing fake accounts.
Streaming platforms utilize various metrics and filters to be able to continuously on an ongoing basis filter out fraudulent and manipulative activity. This is why it’s common for users to have to undergo random security procedures as a way to filter out real account holders from bots.
Especially if suspicious behaviour is noticed.
Disadvantages of Manipulating Streams
Money taken from rightful owners
The shared pool model that streaming platforms work with basically splits revenue and distributes it to artists according to how much they accrue for specific period.
Using fake streams is basically taking money from it’s rightful owner which is basically stealing.
This is why using streaming platforms as they are meant to be used is the right practice.
Skews Artistic Talent and Opportunity
Relying on fake streams will make the artist complacent due to the fact that they no longer have to sharpen their skill in order to appeal to their audience. Furthermore, once a record label catches wind of an artist faking their streams. They can spread this knowledge in the industry which can damage an artist’s reputation and credibility.