The spookiest thing in music: bots

Hey friends!

Today we’re going to talk about bots in music marketing.

Tomorrow is Halloween so I thought this would be about the scariest thing we could talk about. This is because using these can literally get you kicked off Spotify and other DSP’s, and ruin your algorithms online.

This newsletter is also available as a podcast, listen on your favorite podcast platform here.

What are bots?

Most platforms online have what is known as an API. This is a code library that developers can use to build cool applications off the back of another application.

Most of them are great, like smart link companies like Hypeddit or FeatureFM using the Spotify API to create pre-save links.

In MusicFunnels we integrate with several API’s to allow you to connect with Stripe, MailChimp and many other platforms. With Melodist we use them to track analytics on streaming platforms and process payments.

However with these API’s people find nefarious ways to use them. For example someone can code a Spotify bot to listen to songs, save tracks, follow artists etc.

Since software is easily scalable, they can run thousands of these bots from servers around the world to drive serious streaming volume. It works the same way on social media platforms.

This is somewhat of an oversimplification, but hopefully that gives you an idea of how these work. As you might imagine, the owners of these platforms don’t like having thousands of fake accounts.

Why people use bots

Artists sometimes think that the reason they aren’t successful is because nobody will give them a chance. If only their profile looked active, then people would take them seriously. Or perhaps, all that bot activity will trigger algorithmic activity.

Unfortunately, these beliefs are almost always wrong.

Larger artists often get caught using bots to inflate their stream count. They might use them for these reasons:

  • Ranking on specific charts

  • Hitting certain stream goals

  • Making a record go gold or platinum

  • Creating an illusion of engagement to encourage further engagement

When large artists use bots they can typically get away with it because its such a small percentage of their overall volume. It’s still lame as hell and they should be ashamed for doing it, but they do get away with it.

Indie artists on the other hand often get caught because 99% of their numbers will be fake. Additionally, it screws up their algorithm because all their engagement is completely fabricated.

Click Farms

In addition to bots, some companies will have thousands of phones or computers in a warehouse programmed to perform certain tasks.

These can literally be human operated as well. As a result these often occur in countries where labor is incredibly cheap.

Sometimes these click farms are used to attack competitors ads. But also, sometimes their actions are sold for fake engagement or online metrics. In many ways they function very similar to bots. They’re just used when it can’t be done 100% in software.

Avoid Bots & Click Farms

Hopefully by now you’re realizing why you don’t want any of this. Not only can using these services get you banned from the DSP’s and social media platforms, they can seriously mess up your algorithm.

Bots will never actually become fans. They won’t join your email list, buy merch or come to shows. They won’t even engage with your content unless you pay them to.

This means if you have bot followers, they won’t engage with your stuff. The platform sees that poor engagement and assumes your content just sucks and doesn’t push it out to real people.

Some platforms will just straight up blacklist or shadow ban your account. Meaning no matter how pure your efforts are going forward, they won’t let you grow.

One sure way to avoid bots is to promote your music organically on social media. If you have a budget, accelerate that growth drastically using Facebook ads. If you’re a larger artist, consider using a vetted SEO based playlist service.

Have a great Halloween!

Whenever you’re ready, there are 4 ways I can help you:

  1. My courses. Spotify Growth Machine teaches you how to use Facebook ads to promote your music on Spotify. YouTube Growth Machine teaches you how to grow a YouTube channel organically and how to use YouTube ads. Fan Growth Machine teaches you how to build a website, online store and grow your email list.

  2. My ad agency. Forbid Media specializes in running Facebook conversion ads to promote your music on Spotify.

  3. Website / Store / Funnels. MusicFunnels is the best all-in-one platform for music artists to make a website, online store, sales funnels and build their mailing list.

  4. 1-on-1 consulting. You can book 1-hour calls with myself or Alex Bochel here.

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If you’d rather just purchase the e-book, or physical book or audiobook you can do so here.

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