International

IFPI Forces Closure of Site That Sold 'Fake' Plays on Spotify, YouTube

streaming music
Getty Images

       

LONDON — A legal injunction has been placed against one of Europe's leading "fake stream" sites, ordering it to close.

The order was filed against Followerschmiede.de in the Berlin District Court by international trade body IFPI and German music association Bundesverband Musikindustrie (BVMI) as part of a broader industry-wide campaign to prevent "fake streams."

Germany-based Followerschmiede.de is one of a number of global sites where customers can pay for "fake plays" on streaming services like Spotify, YouTube, SoundCloud or TikTok to falsely boost an act's popularity and potentially inflate its chart position and royalty payments.

Figures around the size and scale of the site's illegal activity are not known, but IFPI described Followerschmiede as one of Germany's most prominent stream manipulation sites.

"Those who create music must be remunerated fairly and accurately for their work and investment. Stream manipulation undermines this – whether by undermining the accuracy of charts, royalty payments to music creators or otherwise – and cannot be tolerated," said IFPI chief executive Frances Moore in a statement. She said streaming platforms need to find "a robust technical solution" to the problem.

"We took this action as part of our commitment to protect the legitimate legal market for music and to hinder any fraudulent services seeking to undermine it," added BVMI chairman and CEO Dr. Florian Drücke. "This should be seen as a signal to other manipulation services that we are prepared to take action against them," he said.

Last year, IFPI was part of an industry-wide coalition of record labels, publishers and collecting societies that issued a 21-point "Code of Best Practice," aimed at preventing and detecting stream manipulation on audio and audio-visual streaming services.

Signatories included all three major record labels, publishers Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group, Kobalt, Concord, and streaming services Spotify, Deezer and Amazon, as well as IMPALA, the American Association of Independent Music, Merlin, WIN, International Confederation of Music Publishers, National Music Publishers' Association and Recording Industry Association of America.