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How To Tell if a Spotify Playlist is Fake and Botted (for Musicians)


5 Ways How To Tell if a Spotify Playlist is Fake & Botted (for Musicians) | How to avoid botted playlists on Spotify

The rise of Spotify playlists as a popular music consumption method has resulted in more opportunities for musicians.


However, not all that glitters is gold, and this holds especially true for some Spotify playlists that employ bots to provide fake streams and followers.


Knowing how to discern genuine playlists from fake ones is crucial for artists seeking to promote their music. But unfortunately, the realm of fake Spotify playlists has only grown over the years, and now artificial streaming numbers are a real issue that can put your music career in a precarious situation.


Spotify recently announced it will penalize artists on a "three strike" type of basis, removing tracks that have a surplus of fraudulent streams. Plus, algorithms will promote an artist's profile with botted activity to other similar listeners, resulting in you missing out on potential fans and reaching even more bots.


Want to know how to avoid this altogether? Without further ado, let's dive into the world of fake Spotify playlists, and teach you how to identify the red flags yourself.


Identifying Fake Spotify Playlists - 5 Methods

After working with playlist curators for almost 8 years now, I can confidently say I have a good eye when it comes to distinguishing a real playlist and a fake Spotify playlist, which in other words, utilizes artificial streaming.


That being said, I still rely on third-party tools to help me come to a concrete conclusion.


For these examples, we'll be showcasing a free service called artist.tools (which also has premium features).


Each option below will mention whether or not the strategy can be used for free.


Method 1: Bot Checker

The first and simplest free way to tell if a playlist is the real deal or garbage is to simply view the automatic bot checker on artist.tools.


Use the bot checker to determine the number of streams a fake playlist can generate in artificial streams

Each playlist will display: 100% botted, likely botted, or seems bot-free. This is a quick at-a-glance way to see if further investigation is required.


If you have see the green "seems bot-free" tag on the playlist of interest, it's very likely no further digging is required, and you can rest assured the playlist is authentic.


Note: If a playlist has yet to be added to the system, it will be unable to assess it's quality until 7 days later.


Method 2: Follower Growth Charts

Another free feature on artist.tools that is an easy way how to spot fake streams on Spotify is their follower growth chart.


With this chart, you can view the growth history of any playlist on Spotify.


Whether looking for bigger or smaller artists, just add a playlist link, and view the follower growth on your or other playlists

As seen above, a major red flag is when a there are huge follower jumps in day, and then very few followers the next days. This suggests that the playlist curator suddenly paid for a ton of botted followers, or dealt with the fact that Spotify removed a lot of botted accounts, which they do regularly.


Method 3: Keyword Rankings

Although a paid feature on artist.tools, (click here to receive 10% off of their paid plan) their keyword ranking tool is a tell-tale sign of suspicious activity.


In the about section, musicians can view keyword rankings on the spotify platform for any real or fake spotify playlists

Another way how to tell if a spotify playlist is fake by analyzing these rankings, as most Spotify playlists will rank for a variety of similar keywords in various countries.


The playlist does not have to be in the top spot for a given search phrase to prove it is real, but if the playlist fails to rank for simple terms, such as the actual name of the playlist, this is a... yup you guessed it... red flag!


Method 4: Playlist Popularity Score

Another neat feature on artist.tools is their song popularity score. Taken directly from Spotify, this 0-100 ranking will tell you if the playlist features smash-hit songs or songs that very few plays.


If a playlist has a popularity score much lower than 40, it's definitely a red flag. However, this does not mean that it is 100% a fake Spotify playlist, as sometimes playlists can grow despite having a low popularity score (although uncommon).


You can also use this feature to explore each song in the playlist. Fake playlists will typically have random artists featured that don't fully meet the theme or criteria of the songs, just to make a quick buck. So if you see songs that don't fit the vibe at all... that's another red flag!


Method 5: Monthly Listener Estimates

The last way how to know if a Spotify playlist is fake on artist.tools is by viewing their estimated monthly listeners amount, which is a paid feature.


If the estimated monthly listeners is not at least 10x the daily follower growth amount, this is a red flag.


This is not a fake spotify playlist, as the playlist curator is verified and the monthly listeners add up to the playlist growth!

For example, in the above image the estimated listeners are 1.1k-3.4k, while the new followers per day are 84. This math adds up. Let's show an example of questionable listening activity to make this more clear.


On the flip side, related artists don't achieve a high number of streams with this fake playlist, red flag!

In this example, the above image shows the estimated listeners are 200-500, while the new followers per day are 73. This math does not add up, as with so many new number of followers per day you would expect far more monthly listeners in a playlist.


Similar to method 4, this is not a guaranteed way to determine a Spotify playlist is fake. Sometimes, a playlist could simply lose keyword ranking and shrink in activity.


However, most times you would want to avoid that playlist regardless. For that reason, this method is still a good goalpost when it comes to telling if a playlist is worth pursuing or not.


Oh, and rest assured that their projections are very accurate, as they use Spotify's discovered on section to project accurate monthly listener estimates.

 
 

How To Tell if A Spotify Playlist is Fake

Although briefly mentioned at various points in the above five methods, here are three ways to confirm a Spotify playlist is inauthentic, without using a third-party tool like artist.tools.


Inconsistent or Irrelevant Content

Review the tracks within a playlist; a genuine playlist usually maintains a coherent theme or genre.


Random, mismatched songs may indicate a lack of curatorship, sometimes associated with fraudulent playlists aimed at inflating stream numbers indiscriminately.


Relevant and regularly updated content is a sign of a playlist curated with intent and audience in mind.

  • Content Consistency Checklist:

  • Confirm that all tracks adhere to the playlist’s stated theme or mood.

  • Look for signs of regular updates and curator engagement.


Stream Count Verification

When you look at a playlist, check the stream counts for various tracks.


If a new song has been in the playlist for months and has yet to hit 1,000 streams despite being in a playlist with a lot of followers, this is suspicious.


To inspect this:

  • Compare the stream counts displayed on the playlist against the individual track pages.

  • Be skeptical if the playlist has a high number of followers but the songs within it have suspiciously low stream counts.


Track Popularity Analysis

Analyzing track popularity involves looking at how songs perform outside the playlist in question.


Authentic popularity is typically evident through several indicators:

  • Look for the song's presence in other reputable and well-known playlists.

  • Check if there are a lot of songs with a 0-10 popularity score near the top of the playlist.

  • Listen to see if there are songs with low quality production that are near the top of the playlist.


Realize that inconsistencies in these areas may hint at fake streams on Spotify.


If most songs on a playlist have high stream counts but low overall engagement or don't appear in other playlists, this could indicate that the streams are not genuine.


In Conclusion

Ultimately, labeling a real playlist versus a fake playlist is not an easy task.


Thankfully, by using the steps outlined in this article, artists can effectively gauge the quality of a Spotify playlist.


We always recommend our artists use a service like artist.tools to identify fake playlists and avoid scams at all costs. Their free version is powerful, but by using our link you can also get 10% off if you ever decide to upgrade to their full suite of tools.


Fake playlists won't just hurt your algorithmic reach as an artist, but could have larger implications such as having your music pulled from streaming services.


Therefore, we implore you to do your best as an artist to quality check the authentic of the playlists that make up your streams.


The worst notification for a musician is one saying their music was pulled off of a DSP due to fake streams, usually unknowingly to them.


I keep hearing about this scenario more and more, so I hope this article is useful in your journey as a musician.


I write blogs every Wednesday for musicians, so if you enjoyed the content, please consider sticking around by subscribing to the blog, and joining the family!


Otherwise, until next week, musicians!


Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, you’ll find answers to common questions on how to distinguish genuine Spotify playlists from those with inflated stream counts and bot activity.


What are the indicators of a legitimate Spotify playlist?

Legitimate Spotify playlists often have a consistent history of updates and contain tracks with variable listener and stream counts. Usually, genuine playlists feature songs that have more streams than unique listeners since users tend to replay songs they enjoy.


How can you differentiate between real and fake stream counts?

Real stream counts usually have a natural growth pattern, often exhibiting more streams than listeners. An abnormal ratio where the number of listeners matches the number of streams can be indicative of fake activity.


What tactics does Spotify use to identify and manage artificial play activity?

Spotify employs proprietary algorithms to monitor and assess streaming activity, flagging patterns that suggest artificial manipulation. This includes analyzing rapid spikes in streams, inconsistent listen times, and geographic irregularities in play counts.


Can you detect if a playlist has been artificially populated with bot accounts?

You can detect artificial activity by reviewing listener profiles and engagement patterns. Signs of bots include accounts with no user image, sparse activity, or those that follow a large number of playlists but have few followers themselves.


What are the common characteristics of bot-generated activity on Spotify?

Bot-generated activity is typically characterized by high stream counts with low engagement, a lack of legitimate user interaction, and repetitive listening patterns that do not match natural human behavior. Growing a Spotify playlist is difficult, so if the number of followers do not match up with the streams, further investigation could prove beneficial.


Are there tools available to verify the authenticity of a Spotify playlist?

Yes, there are analytical tools like IsItAGoodPlaylist and artist.tools that provide insights into playlist performance. They can help uncover discrepancies in stream counts, follower growth, and listener engagement; which may suggest a playlist not be authentic. Learn more here.

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