Sony Music artist Badshah came under the spotlight recently when his label claimed he’d broken YouTube’s first-day-views record; YouTube pointedly didn’t confirm it (and still hasn’t); and then debate ensued about the strategy of buying Google ads to boost a video’s view-count on YouTube. As Times Music COO Mandar Thakur crisply put it in a panel at last week’s All About Music conference in Mumbai: “The whole f***ing industry does paid views.” But this is a debate that goes well beyond India.
Witness Rolling Stone’s latest feature, ‘YouTube Ads Divide Latin Music Industry’, and its claim that “major music companies are allegedly spending tens of thousands of dollars to boost view counts on the world’s largest streaming service”.
As the piece points out, there’s nothing illegal going on here (“the legit way of juicing streams” as one interviewee describes it). Spending tens of thousands of dollars on ‘TrueView’ ads on YouTube can apparently generate up to 12m additional views for a new music video. There’s more detail too: this isn’t just about getting a first-day view-count worth boasting about: labels are also trying to make sure new videos get picked up by YouTube’s recommendation algorithm. “If you don’t spend money on videos, it’s very hard to get them picked up by the algorithm, because everyone else is doing it…”
One of the other points made: this kind of strategy will be more prevalent in markets where TrueView ads are cheaper to buy: India and Latin America both falling into that category.