A Rolling Stone headline claiming that ‘fake streams could be costing artists $300 million a year’ could be seen as over-egging its story, given that the source is a single indie-label boss citing anonymous sources. Still, Hopeless Records founder Louis Posen *is* making a useful contribution to the debate about the scale of ‘fake streams’ in 2019, with his interview and subsequent appearance at New York’s Indie Week conference.

Posen talks about noticing that one of his label’s tracks suddenly jumped from 3k daily streams to 35k, entirely driven by six Spotify playlists. “It couldn’t be more suspicious: The playlists were created recently; they gained a bunch of followers in one week; they’ve never gained another follower since then; and all the plays happened in a three-day period,” said Posen. And then the claim: “My sources think that three to four percent of global streams are illegitimate streams. That’s around $300 million in potential lost revenue moved from legitimate streams to illegitimate, illegal streams.”

The concern here is about that redistribution of royalties: while Hopeless Records’ track was an unwitting beneficiary in this specific case, Posen is right to raise the question of just how widespread this kind of thing is – and whether streaming services’ policies are keeping pace with it.

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