The German record industry has secured another injunction ordering a company to stop providing stream manipulation services. Too much of this and everyone will have to start getting actual fans to listen to their music.
Although affecting the music industry globally, stream manipulation has become a particularly big talking point in some key European markets like Germany. As a result, the record industry there has targeted a number of companies that offer stream manipulation services, ie they artificially boost plays, views or other interactions with artists and music on the key digital music platforms.
Sometimes those services are used by people within the music industry simply looking to boost an artist’s profile and make it look like there is more momentum around that artist than there really is. However, because of the way streaming monies are shared out each month, such manipulation can also be used – both within and from outside the music industry – to fraudulently grab a portion of the monthly digital pie, taking royalties away from everyone else in the music community.
There have been various efforts around the world to crack down on stream manipulation, though particularly so in Germany, where local record industry trade group BVMI and global labels organisation IFPI have taken legal action against a number of the companies that offer stream manipulation services.
The latest company to be targeted with legal action of that kind is Germany-based likeservice24.de. It’s a widely used website that allows clients to artificially score plays, views, likes, subscribers and comments for and around their music. BVMI and IFPI have secured an injunction through the Regional Court Of Frankfurt ordering likeservice24.de to cease those operations.
Welcoming that injunction, IFPI boss Frances Moore said: “This is yet another positive decision in a series issued by the German courts supporting the recording industry’s ongoing fight against streaming manipulation globally. IFPI and its industry partners remain committed to tackling this harmful practice, which not only deprives artists, songwriters and other rights holders of their rightful compensation, but also misleads music fans”.
Meanwhile, Florian Drücke at BVMI added: “Whilst we don’t know the specific steps that the streaming services themselves are taking on their platforms to directly prevent this activity, for our part, we are taking legal actions to ensure that the streaming market functions properly and without manipulation, which harms creators and their partners. Such manipulation damages both the accuracy of royalty payments to music creators and the credibility of a key industry barometer, the charts. On behalf of music creators and fans alike, we will not accept that”.
Stream manipulation services targeted by past legal action in Germany include Socialnow.de, Socialgeiz.de, Likergeiz.de, Netlikes, Likesandmore and Followerschmiede.de. IFPI also worked with the Brazilian trade body Pro-Música Brasil to target similar services there, including TurboSocial.