You Can’t Buy Fans (So Why Do Musicians Keep Trying?)

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Paying for SoundCloud Listens

Don’t pay for fake plays, fake friends, or fake followers

No, I’m not talking about some bad MySpace flashback; people are STILL trying to buy their way to stardom — one click at a time.

A recent article from Digital Music News called “$10 = 100,000 Fake SoundCloud Plays…” illustrates just how easy it is to pay someone to listen to your music, view your videos, favorite your content, comment on your media, and follow/subscribe to your various channels (SoundCloud, YouTube, Twitter, etc.)

But all those listens, clicks, and views don’t equal FANS, so why do musicians keep trying this tactic? 

Simple: they believe inflated numbers will impress people. Which people? Well, I guess that’s where artists’ motives differ. It could be labels, bookers, managers, fellow musicians, friends,… even themselves (yes, it’s a more common delusion than you might imagine).

But whether they’re driven by insecurity, ambition, or something else — paying for fans strikes me as a desperate move born out of a misunderstanding of how bands succeed in today’s post-label landscape.

When a band creates something of value (music, videos, community, connection), you can see how their buzz builds alongside their increasing social media stats. It’s a logical trajectory. The more actual connections you forge with listeners, the more chances you find along the way to continue that trend: blog coverage, exclusive giveaways, better touring/gigging opportunities, plus real music sales and YouTube revenue to help you make your career sustainable in the long-term.

Marketing your music 101: 
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Fake fans don’t fool anyone

Now let’s look at the opposite scenario: you’ve bought 5 million listens on SoundCloud. Well, why haven’t I ever heard of you? Why aren’t you performing on a late night TV show or at least touring outside of your home state?

How is it that your YouTube video has been viewed 700,000 times but I’ve never once seen any of my friends (most of whom are music-lovers) share it on Facebook or Twitter?

The moral to this story is obvious: invest your time and marketing money in something that will help you find your real fans. For example, if you were going to spend $100 boosting your SoundCloud listens, use that same money to print nice one-sheets/press releases and mail out 10 CDs to 10 music bloggers in your genre that you think will dig your songs.

You might see a smaller return in terms of your tallies, but you’ll have a chance to make real fans — the kind that tell other real people about your music, and who’ll pay real money to see you live, buy your merch, and support your crowdfunding campaigns.

What do you think of buying clicks, views, and listens? Have you been guilty of it in the past (tell the truth!)? What made you feel the need to do it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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  • kid slinger

    Im not even gonna lie ive done it before bit not for labels and bloggers, i didnt buy an obsene amount it was reasonable and believable but i did it for the the people who saw my content, i noticed they were more likely to listen/watch all the way through and comment

    • polysix

      true – people DO take your more seriously if you have inflated numbers. sad but a fact of life.

      • Polysix, I see what you are saying. People focus on NUMBERS more than actual talent at times. I have heard people say something like this, “that video only has 200 views, it must be bad.”

        This mentality leads to people cheating the system. The quest to be “viral” has superseded the quest to provide shareable content.

  • Roy

    Major Labels Sony/BMG and Universal Music Group had been actively doing this on youtube

  • Aaron Finlay

    There is music, the art, and there is music, the business. Music the business – there is no question that numbers impress; even if they’re fake numbers. The music business itself is fake. A lot of times, musicians and artistes get confused regarding the numbers issue. Remember that Justin Beiber is where he is today first because of the numbers – nobody ever asked if those numbers were real. If you’re the greatest artist in the world, people will hear you. In the meantime, the accounting offices in most record labels count numbers. This is just a tip – a very small tip of the iceberg.

    If you’re investing in a band, you’re going to do a due-diligence on their YouTube statistics, if that’s how you’re going to sign a band… But Jeffrey Starr, as unknown as he is to most people, has based a pretty successful career from his MySpace beginnings – as well, a host of other bands have done the same. Metal Sanchez, to name but one. You only get caught when your talent doesn’t justify the numbers, and that doesn’t have to be a real talent, it could be a superficial talent, so long as it works …

    • B Daz

      I agree with this and disagree with the article. Major labels and publicity firms buy fake fans and views all the time. Not to mention radio stations and media companies get paid by labels to play songs, while many listeners are under the impression these songs were chosen because they are great or popular. Of course it’s important to focus on your craft and cultivate a legit following as well, but on the internet…perceived popularity is everything. That’s why new social media networks and dating sites grow by creating fake profiles to make it look like the site is active, and forums pay people to post to “get things going.” These things simply work.

    • Pall Volta

      I agree with you Aaron. I buy youtube views and people listen, leave comments and subscribe to my channel. I do also use a publicist and on our next CD will use radio plugger (a must if one wants a chance to get songs played on non-community radio).
      These views only cost $5.00 a month and I spend that on a cup of chai latte on any given day. It’s only a small part of what I do to get fans and listeners and it is very cheap.

    • Great info. Thanks!

  • I see those as separate things. With RadioAirplay, you're getting actual targeted listens — where a real human being has the opportunity to respond to your music. Yes, you're still paying for it, so there are budgeting concerns, and you have to look at the numbers after the first campaign to see what you're getting in return for that cost. But with fake SoundCloud plays, no one is listening — it's just… empty numbers.


    • Steve Roberg

      I got a pretty good list of emails (around 50) on RadioAirplay when they offered the initial free trial. I sent out an email to my list, asking them to check out my you tube vids, but didn’t see any significant pickup in traffic in youtube, so I suspect the majority of “Fans” from RadioAirplay were other musicians, not really fans at all, so I definitely don’t recommend spending there.

    • Lincoln

      I agree it feels better that real people are listening (RadioAirplay) and it feels even better when some click the 'like' button and even better still if they post a positive comment … but from my experience so far very, very few actually buy a download or CD and of course that's the best feeling without a shadow of a
      doubt :o)

  • Yeah it’s a VERY short term buzz not to mention a waste of money.
    Well I don’t mind admitting my mistakes, a while back I purchased 5 – 6000 views for a music video I put together. It didn’t help generate comments & revenue and I won’t be doing it again.

    The time would be better spent making music or pleasuring one’s self(lol).

  • Joshua Hall

    Does this also apply to sites like radioairplay? I have been very hesitant to pay for plays – even if it is “targeted” for the very reasons stated above. There is no substitute for slogging it out in the trenches, building your following from the ground up – your email list is the most important part of your “virtual” connection, all these other things – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Soundcloud, ect….all have place and you will have to decide how much energy you will put into “virtual likes” – I have found that nothing beats the good ole’ poster and consistency – regular gigs and quality performances. Do something consistently for three years – night after night – and you will have a following, it may not be huge, but it will be dedicated. Certain things – perhaps your new CD – probably wont hurt to put some ad money behind – but pick your platform and target your audience.



      >> Does this also apply to sites like radioairplay?

      Yeah, I need to weigh in here now too. I have paid for some of the click through items (i.e. ReverbNation ) It was a waste of time and money.. But RadioAirplay.. ok, a bit different, and perhaps still not for you.

      RadioAirplay is an internet radio station where you can go to here main stream artist. Choose an artist and they will play songs by that artist, and similar bands of that artist. And then from time to time, slip in a pay for play (you) song. The listener is then told of this fact and asks if you would like to become a fan.

      Personally, I love this service. For one thing, it helped us target an audience of people who would like us. For example, if you are country artist, you do not want to send your songs to a rap station. It took some time to determine the main stream artist channels we should sign on to. But when we did, the fans started coming. And we know who we are as a band.

      Speaking of the fans there, there is no incentive (That I know of) to make themselves a fan. So if they click “no” and move along, so be it. So, no fake fans (I hope).

      So, I love it. It has some great tools to help determine where you should find an audience, and where they are from.. It allows you to send (limited) messages to them. We have, and we get some great responses. But that was my experience. I loved this article, but could not relate it to RadioAirplay (I did relate it to ReverbNation) So in conclusion, I like the site because it allows me to zero in on who our real fans may be. Of course, one of you may have evidence that the site is a scam, and it will break my heart.

      Craig G

  • polysix

    facebook ads are better I think, because you are paying to actually advertise and only interested real people will click on like and keep an eye on your updates… different to paying (or other ways) of simply boosting play counts or YT views etc.

    Am I wrong in thinking this way? Surely advertising IS good and this article is purely about fake numbers generated by robots or non interested clickers.

  • haha

    Some clubs will only book you if you have a certain amount of internet “buzz” going, which they tally as numbers and plays. Also, just last summer the major labels just got caught bumping up their artist plays illegally on youtube. It obviously works in some scenarios.

  • atlcomputerdude

    Let us help you: All real 100%


    I make music for my own enjoyment, but if other people like it, thats great. You can still forge a decent career and still enjoy what you do. The most important thing is to never compromise on what type of music you enjoy making. Also, these marketing strategies such as internet fans is almost as out of date as seeking that ever illusive recording contract. Instead of relying on established venues, create your OWN venues, make your own gigs, play in places nobody would ever think of playing. Always shun the trends.

  • StevenCravisMusic

    This is a little different than the paid ‘Likes’ or ‘listens’ topic, Chris R., but I think it’s a very related category of ‘paying’ for something in the social media world: The paid posts in facebook has been leveraged by facebook since so many people’s posts at any given time push down other posts, therefore many people will miss a posted announcement from your fb page, and the paid post can override that and more of your existing, or even additional, fans will see it (yes, I admit it’s rather sneeky of facebook, but it is the current reality there). So, in the example where paying for a facebook post can serve a purpose, I might want to promote my pandora link, and Pandora only exists for USA and Australia, so by paying to only have that post seen by USA and Australia fb users, I’m getting the attention of FB users who will be able to actually see the Pandora link I’m promoting. This could work the same way for something like Google Adwords, where specific countries can be targeted by the keyword result. But regarding your specific article’s main topic, I agree 100%. Regarding the moral to the story, I think many artist’s will agree that one nice usage of that $100 (or any amount) could be invested in the cost of a new instrument, recording gear, studio time, or studio outsourced work such as mastering if usually done by someone other than ourselves.

  • I think it is sad artists do this. But all the majors do it. Most major artists pay for a publicist. Guess what? Publicist buy bots to acquire fans. I do see a small difference in a public figure using the tactic, as they are trying to reach the people who are already fans. But there is another reason. I hate to be so brash, but people are sheep. They flock to numbers. This has been proven to be true over and over again. To say it is a waste of money is really more of an opinion than a fact. Is advertising a waste of money? Because the two are pretty much the same. You are presenting a product to be great to what ever eyes happen to fall upon it. Now making your number of views or listens bigger without an actual person pushing that button, as described in this article is pretty silly. I agree that is a waste of money. but I did find the argument “Why have I not heard of you?” weak. I have not heard of many amazing artists in the world; that have impressive fan bases. What it all comes down to is the quality of your song writing and recordings. If those are not up to par, you have nothing.

  • Melissa Yvette

    Yes and no.

    While it is true that artists do not gain fans that way – numbers ARE important when seeking certain types of attention. I JUST went through this with one of the artists I am managing. We were pitching for a large media story to premier the new album. Despite the fact that it was featured on the focus pages (main / front page) on iTunes, Deezer, and Amazon simultaneously, they turned it down because he “didn’t have enough profile” specifically on Facebook.

    There is no point arguing about FB’s shit return and that I could get the PR company to spend 30€ for them to come back in 2 days and see all his “new fans” “liking” his page…. that Fake bullshit DOES impress people if you don’t go crazy inflating the numbers (Kid Slinger and Aaron Finlay below make the same point) – they were totally not interested in his email stats, which are high and have good engagement (click throughs etc) rates.

    Despite the fact that fake buys are almost a complete waste of time for actual monetary ROI – they may get you a big media story or a better booker, or even a publishing terms… and that is actual ROI.

    There are also artists who have Gold status albums that very few people have ever heard of outside their own countries so whether your friends have heard of them may not be the best reflection of how successful they are. And they too face problems building audience in different countries, even with good numbers.

    As far as late night TV – that is only about money (expensive and connected publicist and major media push coinciding) – or in certain instances can be pretty much borderline bribery.

    The YES though is that I agree with your main point – just keep working and stop worrying about “going viral” and blah blah blah. Stick to it and get good and don’t take NO for an answer (bet your ass that same media outlet will get another big push from us for the follow-up single) and I do NOT plan on buying any likes despite the above. but we will focus a bit more on building the FB page (despite it’s shitty 6% engagement max out)

    OK – I’ll stop blathering on now… back to work!

  • Gibs712

    numbers impress. songs tell. everything looks good until you hit that play button.

  • Well, buying SoundCloud plays is kind of silly. The large number of followers on SC is also not giving too much. That’s from personal experience, not related to any purchasing fake plays/followers. We’ve been working hard for 5 months to get the first 1000 followers: listening, leaving encouraging and thoughtful comments (you won’t find “Nice”, “Lovely” among our comments but something like “Great chord progression in here”, “Great blend of rock with jazzy movements” and so on). We also spent quite a lot of time collaborating with others, recording songs and instrumentals together. So, it brought the 1st thousand of followers in 5 months. Then we were named “SoundCloud Heroes” and put into “Whom to follow?” lists by SoundCloud itself. So, in the next month after that we got 10 thousands followers. Did we get more comments on our tracks? Hardly. We kept seeing the same dedicated fellow soundclouders. Number of favorites? Well, we got some slight boost in those numbers but not nearly reflecting the 10x growth in the number of followers. So, bottom line, why to pay for fake followers if they don’t leave comments and favorites? Fake plays? Again, from my experience, rare people pay to that number. Fake comments? Those can easily be seen (Those “Nice, “Lovely” and so on).

    However… However, the picture becomes slightly different when talking about Facebook page. The number of Facebook fans is one of the common metrics used by many other charts. E.g. ReverbNation charts are based on that number (in addition to other metrics, of course). Paying even $20 can result in the boost of Facebook fans that can bring you to the first pages on ReverbNation, which can lead to some interesting contacts. Surely, if you don’t have any talent, no one will contact you. But even if you do have the talent, things aren’t always going viral, unless you get some critical mass. Or luck.

    About Facebook again, I am not sure if paid targeted ad campaigns are “fake” by themselves. I.e. if you target your ad to those who specified some particular musical genres in their interests. Of course, it can bring lots of irrelevant likes – that’s true. But it also brings some genuinely interested fans. Whether the payment is worth it – I am still to find out. But even $10 payment brings 1 genuine fan and 200 irrelevant likes – it may still be worth it. “Offline” gigs can be way more expensive and bring way less fans – due to the geolocation for example. You can simply live in a place where jazz is not accepted that well. So, what choice do you have? To relocate?

  • Aaron Gibson

    Hmmm. I’ve done a little bit of YouTube advertising, with mixed results, through Google AdWords for video. I have never/will never shell out for mere numbers rackets. The best way to get views and plays is to have a good enough product that other people want to talk about it and write about it. My channel finally got to 100,000 views a couple of months ago and it’s been a hell of a lot of work to just get that far when I could have just posted a cat video and had a million views.
    The biggest bursts in my numbers have been from blogs and a couple of magazines articles, but even with those pushes my numbers are only in the range of 7,000-23,000 per video. I am always a bit put off to see really bad videos with half a million views, but I know that even Hendrix’s management was guilty of buying up records so that it looked like they were selling out in the beginning.

    • You could always post a cute cat video… and put a thumbnail link in it that plays the video you really want them to see.

  • Christopher Hunter

    I have occasionally released music to coincide with events where I know I’m guaranteed lots of views/listens, but haven’t been able to measure any long term listener results from it.

  • Alan Babbitt

    Correct me if I’m wrong but don’t higher numbers help in your search rankings. I recently bought some Youtube page views, likes, comments and subscribers (about $100 worth) for a music video of one of my songs (“To Hell with Spammers!”). I think it has viral potential and I wanted to give it a kick to see if it would help generate more search traffic from Youtube and Google. We shall see. Too early for meaningful results. But it looks like there were real people involved who listened/watched for at least part of the time

  • chris hardy

    then again there’s the other side of the coin – who’s gonna watch my uber-cool video if there are only 17 plays and one comment from my mom? i don’t buy fake plays (obviously, go see my youtube page), but i can see why some do. seems to soothe their damaged self-worth or something.

  • John

    I do have something to say on this. Although I agree with everything posted in this blog, I really do, if there was zero value in buying fans and views why do all of the major acts do it. With the billions of dollars spent on market research by Sony and other media giants, I must assume they know something about this type of thing. So I must ask again, why do giant music companies buy likes, views and comments? I think I have the answer. Whenever I release a new song I also buy radio time to promote that song. It costs thousands of dollars to do this, but it is money well spent. When I promote a song on the radio I realize that the vast majority of people are not going to enjoy my sound, I hope to rope in 2% of the listeners, this 2% can be hundreds of new fans that will buy my music. When dealing with pre-internet marketing most people understood that you only get a small return, that is why you market to the masses. The larger the body of people you reach the more people will respond.

    On the subject of internet marketing, companies say that there is only a 0.1% return on most things that are advertized. So the goal of any internet marketing action MUST be massive reach. IF an artist can reach 10,000 fake fans for $20, in the minds of advertizing gurus, even if you only rope in 5 people, that is 5 new fans for $20. That is less then $5 per fan. If you are able to convert these new fans into paying customers who will spent $10 on your art, then you have made $50, minus the $20 you spent in the first place you could have a $30 profit, (This is a super simplified look at things). What am I trying to say? People are people. If you want to sell something, anything, to any group, you must reach as many people as possible with the money that you have to spend. And if you only have $20 to spend, I would think that using that money to reach as many people as possible is money well spent.

    Still, there is a problem, when you buy fans the artists creates a fake impression that they have 10,000 people who really enjoy them. This looks like a lie, and it is. But do we really believe that 10 BILLION people watched Justin Beiber’s BABY video? Of course not. On the subject of buying fans, my end feeling is this. If an artist is going to take that course of action they should be well aware of the truth. If you want to buy 10,000 fans, in truth, you need to buy 10 million, out of the 10 million people you have paid to reach, (which will cost thousands and thousands of dollars), you may very well get a 0.1% return of people who really enjoy your music. But make no mistakes, you will not have 10 million fans, even if your Facebook page says so.


    There is also the BOT question. Many of the companies that sell fans are not reaching real people at all. They simply use fake profiles to generate likes and views, when this is the case, no matter who you look at it. Money is wasted!

  • Sabrina Signs

    <3 I network with my real fans 😀 <3

  • antiqcool

    I honestly don’t see the point in trying to inflate your popularity this in this way. As you rightly pointed out, things should grow organically or not at all, that way you know the fans you accumulate are real.

  • Audio Bob

    I agree with the article but it’s a bit rich to lecture when the content is right next to an advert for fake reviews for 42 bucks a pop. Billed as “instant publicity”.

  • Dave Meredith
  • Marc Christensen

    Unfortunately bar owners don’t care what music you make all they care is selling booze that is why they are called bars, those numbers do help you get better shows, who wouldn’t book someone with 30,000 likes, just make sure they are with a local band that can pull or the show will be empty, the bay area is going through the dark ages of music right now, if you don’t have a dumb vid on utube and a bunch of likes no one gonna give you the time of day.

  • Charles Peeples

    That was my question also (re Radio Airplay)… as a non-performing (but self-producing) songwriter I don’t have the “fliers ‘n gigs” option. But I do have about 7000 registered fans on Jango since March -and gratifyingly, they’re spread fairly uniformly over the five songs(which I also have on YouTube). Still not translating to much biz on CDBaby yet. Any other suggestions for us non-performing tune-smiths?

  • This comment I found on the DMN post you link to sums it up for me:

    “it is much cheaper than what a music promotion company is asking for the same thing, with less results :-)”

  • ontheforum

    The truth is, social media if not used wisely can become a huge time waster for Musicians. However, hiring the right company that provides real results on social media can be valuable.

    One thing for someone to ask is “Who Is This Promotion Company?”, “How Long Have They Been Around?”, “Do They Offer Actual Human “Fans” or “Likes?”, and Finally “Do They Offer A Guarantee?”

    … Almost forgot! You should also ask yourself “Does The Company Have A Phone Number To Call A Human Being?”


    3000 Records

  • John Mooney

    If a band’s great and no one’s around to hear them, do they make a sound?

    Sadly, as much as I want to take umbrage to your article, it’s pretty much the truth.

    We’ll never find “the next Metallica”.

    We’ll never find the next anything aside from pop culture corporate manufactured product.

    For a nation that created rock-n-roll our record labels turned their backs on it.

    Now it’s all about a brand. A manufactured business. And yes buying fans is a sad truth.

    I feel absolutely terrible for any young band that’s killing themselves to make it. Because, quite honestly, talent is dead.

  • good stuff.

  • Caps

    LOL Good one Joshua.. Anyways, I do agree that buying big amounts of fake likes,views and what have you isn’t going to get you many fans however, I always think “well, tell me something I don’t know”. Long story short, yes buying fans isn’t the way to go but tell me what is! (note: selling artist fans seems to be the way to go 😉

  • Chris_Tardis

    My take:

    1. PRO : No one want to go first. Having comments or views in place will encourage other people to react. People are more likely to follow. Positive comments lead to more positive comments. A few negative ones, start a snowball effect of tangents and nit-picking.
    2. CON: ALL POSITIVE comments appear fake and lead people to question- even your legitimate accomplishments. Once you are caught lying, you are a liar- even if you mostly tell the truth.

    3. PRO: Show anyone your video and they will mention the amount of views- big or small. Views matter. Why pretend it doesn’t?
    4: CON: You lose your YouTube channel as a penalty for fake traffic.
    5. CON: The views disappear as YouTube cracks down on fake accounts used for this kind of stuff. = waste of money
    6. PRO: A lot of plays causes the stumbled-across-you-ers to assume you have a following and curiosity will lead them to play more of your songs.
    7. CON: Lots of fake plays doesn’t lead to more discovery, it just makes the very few that find you legitimately think you are further along than you are. Still, if they don’t like your music, you’ve accomplished nothing anyway. = waste of money

    And the last part is about thinking you can ever spend your way into someone’s heart -as a thing to be a fan of. As a media editor who does decide who to feature and who to pass on- some of these things do matter. We look for interaction and internet chatter ‘about you’. Not what you claim or say about yourself, but what is said without you being involved. In other words, artists tend to show up and get mentioned in places that they have no control over. You can’t fake that. Or it takes so much work, you are basically over-working yourself.

    The balance is get your friends, your close friends to rally behind you efforts. You want your first views/likes/comments/plays to be from your circle. If you can get a number to support you consistently [whether they think you’re the greatest or the worst] then you are building something better than any group of ‘internet fans’ ever could. Why feature the artist with a great tune that’s totally unknown when there’s another artist- with just as good a song that’s out there sharing their art and working hard to spread their message?

  • xbj

    In a perfect fantasy world where quality rises to the top the assertions in this article would be remotely true. However, in a world of Timberlakes and Cyruses and Biebers, obviously what rises to the top is what is allowed to be heard, and what is allowed to be heard is what the most money has been paid for. On the contrary, playing the game tells suits you know what has to be done and your management (or you) can be trusted with the enormous sums it takes to buy EVERYTHING in this world. It’s called business sense. Languishing in obscurity tells suits you’re merely ignorant of how the game is played. Quality in music hasn’t mattered an atom since the disco late 1970’s. When quality AND payola coincide, you’ll be in the history books where the Beibers and Cyruses won’t. You can be a success without quality, but you cannot succeed without someone in your corner paying massive amounts of payola. To claim or even think otherwise is preposterous and idiotic.

  • Mike

    I’ll keep this short and to the point. Honestly you have to do everything you can. I suggest doing both, But don’t purchase a outrageous unbelievable amount. Maybe 5,000 views here and there. At the end of the day if your truely talented, your aspirations will come to fruition…

    • A fake following will not yield real results…

  • John Cee Stannard

    I’ve been tempted. When my ReverbNation video views hit 20,000 after about 3 months – and I got an e-mail saying “See what you’ve done without our promotion – just imagine what you can achieve with our promotion offers”. Yes – very tempting – but I didn’t, not yet anyway. Those views don’t lead to CD sales. What I need is Actual sales, Actual gigs, Actual recognition. You can’t buy that – in fact – you should get paid for it. But then again – it does no harm – the numbers might impress someone – and it can be fun – and it only takes one of them – with a real connection, to lead to something worthwhile. Yes – I’m still tempted.

  • Mike

    Established marketing companies offer SOME of these services for SEO purposes.

    Like Virool…. You pay for 20,000 high retention views, your record is now indexed by external site running algorithms that index & post popular genre specific records. Now, you start to get organic views….. will start to promote popular records & users that have a lot of listens….

    Whoever wrote this article doesn't understand the science behind promotion.

  • Offers like this arrive in my webmail several times a week, but it always seemed like cheating to me, so Ive never tried it and can’t see myself doing so in the future. It seems to me that even with legitimate actions, you can spend your life on the internet scratching backs and having your back scratched in return without the slightest economic return.

    Better to concentrate on writing a really good song, regardless of whether it gets a mass following or not. At least you’ll have some self-respect.

  • Ha. Yeah, that's a great quote.


  • Sync and live-streaming concerts from home?


  • Joe Mizzi

    I tried this out of sheer curiosity when Facebook first started rolling out ads. Discovered right away exactly what this article states… every single additional “like” from ads added zero engagement to our page. They were at best passive, at worst fake. I haven’t tried any buy plays or views services, but gather they are the same.

    I do use promoted posts occasionally, with some success, likely because those are all about engagement and not just getting “likes.” For example, I’ll promote shows (with a small budget). I see it basically like an online flyer. We have seen increased attendance from doing so, even if sometimes it is just reaffirming existing friends and fans to show up.

    I think as the article states though, it is much better to mail someone a CD than try to buy their “like.” We are still a young band, less than a year under our belt. We often run free CD giveaways, and have seen great engagement from doing so. I also make it a point to research bloggers and magazines and send out our information and a CD to them. We have been interviewed in national press as a result. We also give away CDs at shows. Our goal right now is to discover the people who like our music, and to share it with them, since that is what it is all about.

  • Linda Vee Sado

    Cher has 35% fake Twitter fans as do many of the main stream artists. And a lot of people are dumb enough to think their numbers are real. However I do see Indie bands with ridiculously inflated numbers who can barely drag a dozen people to their shows. I know some who have eventually been caught on some sites and suspended too

  • Linda Vee Sado
  • David G Ward

    I have never bought fans clicks, likes, follows, plays, etc…if the music is good enough it will stand on it’s own. The cash is better spent elsewhere. It is as if you are buying fame. The industry, to me anyway, is broken and if all they are looking at is numbers as opposed to listening to the music…please.

  • I would never knowingly buy fake views, but what if a service is passing off fake views as real ones?

  • Akiva Howard

    I’m new to the music industry, so as a new artist I don’t know what to do and what not to do. I’m learning as I go. I’ve bought radio airplay, but I have found real fans though it. You won’t buy music because you hate it, and you won’t buy music you’ve never heard of. I hoped my boosting plays on radioairplay would actually help get an unknown song out there – I did a cover as it was. X S Media, Gypsy Heart. I guess the other problem is I don’t have funds for a video, which would help my song get noticed more, and I’ve recorded an anonymous band in college that I don’t know who they are! So, even if it sells, I can’t promote the band – unless they come forward and tell me who they are.

  • Brenda L. Howard

    I hear what you are saying about buying fans It’s not that we’re trying to buy fans
    because if pepople listen to your music/songs they might just go and buy our songs for the 99. cent what ever, and we will be able to see with the itunes and CD Baby Amazon if the songs are saleing It’s not just for the fans we are trying to catch or stop them/they that might be stealing.
    With streams and pennys. I think that it should not be a set mart or when it get lets say if it’s at or when it get to I started at $15.00 and I later when down to $10.00 and it’s been 3 thee years now and I have not got any money and yet I know that my songs are saleing.
    I think I smell a rat, and it stink, I want my money.

  • Paul

    I fell prey to a “Buy Soundcloud Plays” scam. Fortunately I only wasted $30. Although they did manage to bump up my play count to the promised number, it soon became apparent that these plays did not represent real users with statistics, favorites and comments. They must have found some way of hacking the Soundcloud system. It was a learning experience. Since that time I have seen several such offers from other providers and I have avoided them like the plague. Still trying to figure out how to get people to listen to my music.

  • Tommy Roberts

    QUOTE “Special Note: 99% of Views, Likes and Comments have been bought/paid for. It makes me feel a little less despondent about no one taking any interest in my work so perhaps it is worth it? Also, understand the only reason I have made this known is because the comments are so damned dodgy it’s just a dead give away! If you’re an actual person who bothers to leave a well considered, authentic comment, it will be easy for me to spot and whether you like my work or not you will be shown awesome respect!”

    The above quote is an extract from the ‘About’ section of my amateur music video on YouTube titled, “AGAIN”. You can view the video and read my replies to all my Fake Likes and Comments here:


  • Mark Aven

    I’ve received recently 100,000 views
    for my music in 3 weeks time from doing cover songs by hitting media
    while it’s first coming out, no buying traffic required, $0 spent. I have been
    using this exposure to just start up building my brand and lead the traffic from these covers to my original music. It’s my
    belief that consistent, persistent effort over a long period of time,
    creating quality polished media that you’re confident in putting out, always responding and engaging fans asap, being niche, and realizing that you’re dealing with living breathing humans with lives and hearts are keys to success.

    This is also the age of information, and
    one has to remember that the ways of doing things are always changing.
    The best ideas of today will be old news tomorrow. One key that was talked about by Stacey Parks of (about promoting Indie Films) in one interview was the idea of catching markets when they are first starting and not oversaturated. Imagine if you actually caught itunes, youtube, dailymotion, veoh, etc… when it was first coming out.
    There were many startups that were successful by doing just that, but
    now it’s become stricter and accepts less new content freely…..Of course that was talking about indie films…

  • AsylumSeaker

    Some people really are superficial enough to take the numbers seriously. If you inflate your numbers, ensure that you desire superficial people as a target audience.

  • Glenn G

    Sounds like wise words to me.

  • Glenn G

    Wow…good point!

  • Glenn G

    Good thoughts, David!

  • State of Psychosis

    yep there is no reason to pay for plays. fake bot plays are useless anyways and there is a much better alternative:

    this site is a FREE peer to peer commenting exchange network

    (this link will get you a bit of a bonus to start you out for signing up from it.. part of a promotion.. it doesn’t matter if anyone has used it before either)

    You have real people listening to your tracks this way and you don’t have to pay out the nose like with the buy play services.

    You make a lot of fans as well if your music is good.

    see one person hears your stuff, tells another person, and so on
    word spreads when you really nail a track

    there are tons of other perks to using this site as well
    people have even gotten signed by record labels off the top list that works with the site when they rank high.

    so there you have it. You don’t even need to pay money.
    just join ck 😉

  • Done With It

    Cdbaby sells ads for as low as $35 per week. How is this different?

  • The way I see it, paying for fake views and fake plays is one thing. Paying for actual targeted advertising is another. With the first, you’re boosting your numbers, but without ANYONE actually interfacing with your music, brand, image, content, etc. It’s an empty effort. When you pay for targeted advertising, you get to put your music (or at least a message ABOUT your music) in front of the folks who are most likely to become fans — on the websites that they’re already visiting (Rolling Stone, Pandora, etc.). So you’re paying for the chance to make REAL fans.

    @ Chris Robley

    • Richard McCargar

      I doubt many people buy ads from those companies with the knowledge that any of them are fake views.

  • I use sites like and to free followers to boost my follower account. What is your take on these “Follow4Follow” type websites, that allow you to earn coins by following people to later exchange them for followers to your own account? I’m not one to spend money on anything to fake boost my accounts, especially if it’s fake. These sites do offer some real people to follow you though that could actually be interested in you, you know?

  • SickMewsick!

    I agree with most comments here. The cold truth is that even popular artists have done this. The cold truth is that there could be excellent-yet-undiscovered music out there just because the artist won’t “get in the game”. Numbers do matter.

    Numbers are making new artists everyday while you sit and wait for everyone to take notice and change.

    But then again, nothing can help bad talent. Fake plays will bring you audience, not talent. If you think you’re good, don’t waste anymore time.

    The offers out there are incredible!
    This is the best one I could find.