Spotify is the world's biggest streaming platform, so it's no wonder that scammers have made a business around ripping off unsuspecting musicians. In this article, I'll teach you the best ways to check if a playlist is fake.
To preface, I own a data analytics company that focuses on evaluating the quality and legitimacy of Spotify playlists (among other things). In this blog post, I'll be breaking down the factors that our algorithm uses to determine playlist quality, additional factors that may be available to you (eg: Spotify for Artists), and aggregated patterns/trends among fake playlists.
Forward-facing indicators like followers, playlist descriptions, "Discovered On" presence, etc.
The ratio of profile followers to playlist followers
A healthy ratio is at least 1 profile follower for every 100 playlist followers. This growth comes from traffic over time or follow-gate services popular among playlist curators. You should be suspicious of any curator with a large number of playlist followers and virtually no profile followers. I also encourage you to click on their "followers" tab and see if their followers look legitimate. Strange names or no profile picture? Definitely a red flag.
A similar number of followers amongst all their playlists
It's a typical practice for scammers to bot numerous playlists at the same time, all around the same size. For example, if every playlist on a curator's profile has around 50K followers, that's a major red flag.
Mention of promotion in the playlist description
Any playlist that mentions paid placements or music promotion in its playlist description is usually a good indicator of a fake playlist.
It's a typical practice of legitimate curators to accept "submissions", or review songs for a small fee. This provides artists a way to buy their attention (so to speak) and gives the curator a way to monetize their playlists, without accepting paid placements (which is a huge no-no).
The playlist is full of garbage music
Music taste is subjective, but we all know the difference between low-quality and high-quality songs. You can hear it instantly.
If a playlist is chalked full of garbage music, especially if the top of the playlist features only top-charting artists, I would be suspicious about the quality of the playlist.
It's profoundly difficult, if not IMPOSSIBLE, to grow a playlist full of garbage music. Even with a ton of paid ad traffic, who's going to follow a playlist full of crap music?
Lack of social presence
Any big curator has a social presence outside of Spotify. Maybe they make posts on Instagram, or have a YouTube lyric channel. Any which way, if you look up this curator online, they should come up somewhere outside of Spotify.
Beware the "Discovered On" section
It's been said time and time again that if a playlist is featured on a big artist's "Discovered On" section, it's legitimate. This couldn't be further from the truth.
While, yes, good playlists will ALWAYS be on a big artist's "Discovered On" section, fake playlists can too.
We recommend not using this metric to evaluate the quality of a playlist.
Historical data like follower growth over time, sudden growth/dips, etc.
Extreme follower dips
This is a great example of a botted playlist.
As you can see from the total and daily follower history, this playlist suddenly lost 20,000 followers and then gained them right back a day later.
Spotify for Artist Indicators
If you have your music in a playlist, you can view additional data on a playlist.
Everyone listener is from a major US city
While a lot of legitimate playlists have fans from US major cities, if you're getting streams exclusively from Chicago, Los Angeles, or New York (major data center cities), then it's likely the playlist is fake.
It's cheap to run bots from these locations because major US cities typically have the biggest (and cheapest) server infrastructure.
The playlists stream-to-follower ratio of off
A lot of fake playlists will give you more streams than the playlist has in followers (ie: you gained 10,000 streams from them, but they only have 5,000 followers). On any given month, you should almost never see a higher number of new streams than followers the playlist has.
The playlists listener to stream ratio is off
A real playlist should (but not always) have about 10-30% fewer listeners than streams. Playlists that have identical (or almost identical) streams to listeners, as well as playlists whose listener count is ridiculously low (ie: 50 listeners, 1,000 streams) is a huge red flag as a fake placement.
In conclusion, it is evident that verified Spotify playlists remain the best way to market your music in 2022. With over 190 million active users and growing, Spotify playlists offer a unique opportunity for artists to reach their target audience. By working with a reputable playlist promotion company like SubmitLink, you can ensure that your music reaches the right people and increases your chances of being discovered by new fans.
Now that you know how to spot fake playlists, what are you waiting for?