We've written about the services and bots that promise thousands of plays and followers on Spotify, Soundcloud and elsewhere for a couple of hundred dollars. But the tricks used to get those plays can get an artist kicked off any streamer. As one band found out, too many plays coming from too few sources - even a few overzealous fans - can get you banned forever.
Smokey and The Mirrors had their album permanently removed from Spotify for having too many plays come from too few sources. Here's the note that distributor CD Baby sent to the band after their tracks were removed:
"Spotify made the decision to pull the album in response to streaming activity that they determine to be abusive. This can happen if fans are encouraged to stream the album on repeat for long periods of time or something along those lines. Most digital music providers are ok with a lot of streams for indie content, but if a handful of users are just playing an album or track on repeat, which does not resemble normal listening behavior, they will remove the content to avoid financial losses. Royalties that are accrued by this kind of streaming will usually not be paid out if they are determined to be abusive."
The band insists that the plays came from their small but very loyal fanbase. Before Smokey and The Mirrors was removed it had clocked 79,000 total plays of the songs on their Thin Black Line album. "That is equivalent to the 4000 fans on our email list listening to the record 1.5 times, according to the band.
"Many of our fans were not Spotify members. Some of them wrote to us and told us that they were signing up for Spotify just so they could listen to our album and support our music," according to the band. "Even our favorite local bookstore, Nightbird Books, starting playing our album in the store... It has been so amazing to hear from folks who have truly enjoyed the album and have listened to it multiple times. Many folks admitted that they wouldn't have bought the CD but that Spotify gave them a way to listen to and fall in love with the album."