The worlds of digital entertainment and social media are an example of an ever-changing market that requires competition to survive in a variety of ways.
One of those ways is the old fashioned “fake it till you make it”. On 21 Savage’s most recent album, “I am Greater Than I Was,” J. Cole pointed out what a lot of us already knew about the music industry of today. People are buying fake streams. This is a “well duh” moment for you the reader and anyone paying a bit of attention in the digital era. Hell, Payola has been around in the music business since as for back as anyone of us can remember. This article is more of an informative on the ‘how’ rather than the result. And we’ll start with an Indian rapper named Badshah.
Badshah made the news recently for his music video breaking the record for the most views on a music video uploaded to YouTube in 24 hours. That record is now 75 million according to him and Sony Music India, the label he’s signed to. Apparently, YouTube disagrees. There was talk of alleged bot use and the use of server farms to accumulate views. This, however, is not the case. What seems to be what bolstered the views of Badshah’s video “Paagal” was Sony Music India simply buying ads. When a major label buys advertisement for a music video, and that music video itself shows up in the ads that play before the video you actually wanted to watch starts, the few seconds that you see that ad on your screen before you click to skip it, still counts as a full view. Badshah is calling the treatment of his video unfair due to the fact that major record labels have been buying ads for their artists for years.
The problem, from what I can gather is that even with India’s large population, Badshah’s social media numbers don’t explain the video’s rapid ascent to breaking the YouTube record. Here’s the example. Ariana Grande had broken this record for the video for “Thank U, Next”. Her 24-hour numbers came in at 55.4 million. Her Instagram has 161 million followers. She also dropped it with no promo. Badshah’s Instagram sits at 4.8 million. He also had been promoting the song prior to release there as well as on his YouTube channel, which doesn’t even have a million subscribers. Now, “Paagal” was uploaded to Sony Music India’s channel, but it’s still one of those events that have caused a lot of people, YouTube included to go “hmmmmmmm”. Especially knowing that India gets cheaper ad rates than its Western counterparts.
The advertisements themselves are not purchased via YouTube. They’re, funnily enough, bought through Google. YouTube itself released a statement saying that they’re going to be “reevaluating” how things will be working moving forward. This isn’t the first time YouTube has had issues with seemingly fraudulent views. Why 2 seconds of an ad counts as a full view is absurd. What makes this more interesting is the trend of large streamers on YouTube no longer doing live content and that’s outside of the rampant demonetization that’s been going on in the last few years. Adam22 of media outlet No Jumper, Brendan Schaub a former UFC Heavyweight fighter turned podcaster and comedian and Joe Rogan of the Joe Rogan Experience have all stopped doing live versions of their podcasts despite the large number of live viewers each respective platform had. Schaub explained why he and Rogan no longer do live on the Brilliant Idiots podcast with comedian Andrew Schulz and radio host Charlemagne Tha God.
In the last 5 minutes of the podcast, Schaub explained that YouTube does not count live viewers in a similar fashion to views that come when the stream becomes available to watch on YouTube’s usual on-demand sense. The example Schaub gave, “Let’s say [the Brilliant Idiots] was live right now and we had 300k people watching, that 300k doesn’t count towards your total when you post it to YouTube. So then you’re not going to get the advertising dollars.” So YouTube doesn’t want to pay content creators a fair amount for bringing in scores of live viewers, but 2 seconds of an ad count you didn’t want to see counts as a full view. Even if you click to skip it. I’m for a private company doing what they want, but that doesn’t shield them from critique. I personally think that getting full view counts for seconds of a long video from an ad seems asinine and I don’t know why these social media companies would pay out full payments for such little interactions.