I had just released a new song on Spotify when I noticed that my Spotify Streams had went down, so I looked up the reason why and wrote about it here.
Spotify will delete streams that they believe to be fake or in their words: “artificial”. This generally happens when streams come from bots or fraudulent accounts. Additionally, Spotify stream counts will go down momentarily while they are in the middle of updating stream counts.
**UPDATE**: Spotify may now completely remove songs that have fake streams, making it even more important to follow a proper music marketing strategy like the one I used to get on over 7 Spotify editorial playlists and get 300,000+ streams.
If you just released a new song and find yourself diligently watching your streams or waiting for them to update on a new day, this can be particularly frustrating.
Thankfully, there are a few tips and tricks you can learn about how Spotify handles stream counts and artificial (or fake) streams to make sure your new release is in the best shape it can be in.
Also – make sure you have music up on Spotify first (duh hehe). If you don’t yet, I would recommend DistroKid as the best and cheapest option (it is what I use).
P.S. To get it for even cheaper, you can learn about the special DistroKid discount.
Why Your Spotify Streams Went Down
There are generally two reasons that your Spotify streams may have decreased from what they were before:
- Spotify is currently in the middle of updating your stream counts for the day.
- Spotify has detected that you had streams coming from fraudulent accounts.
Clearly, the first scenario is the most preferred scenario to be in, but it can still be quite frustrating. If you happen to be in the second scenario, there are a few things that you can do but, be warned, the advice could be a tough pill to swallow.
What to do if Spotify is in the middle of updating your streams
From time to time, you may notice a sharp drop in streams, likes or followers. By sharp, I mean really sharp. What I mean is that you may notice some of your counts flat out hit 0.
This decrease in streams is much different from when your Spotify stream count is not updating. So make sure you know the difference!
Fortunately, the decrease you are noticing is just a minor bug in the Spotify system and is completely normal and temporary. The solution is very simple…
Simply wait it out.
Grab a coffee, do some other work, research the answer to how much does Spotify pay per stream, and come back to it later. I’ve personally seen this issue resolve itself in less than 1 hour and quite often it is resolved in a few minutes.
P.S. If push comes to shove, you may want to contact DistroKid (or whoever your music distributor is) and bypass their annoying FAQ when doing so for a quicker result.
The good news is that if you have been waiting patiently all day for Spotify to update your streams, you won’t have to wait too much longer when you notice this temporary drop in your Spotify streams.
What to do if Spotify detects fraudulent activity
As Spotify has grown more popular, bad actors have entered the mix trying to game the system by selling streams and making money off of artists by having them pay to be on fraudulent playlists.
Naturally, Spotify has had to start cracking down on this to make sure that they don’t lose money by paying out Spotify royalties for fake streams.
Spotify may punish artists who have artificial (or fake) streams by removing those fake streams or even removing the song completely.
Here are the main sources that Spotify may see as fraudulent:
- Streams from bots;
- or, streams from click farms;
- or even, streams from deactivated accounts.
Another way that Spotify may identify that a specific playlist is fake is by looking at the stream-to-listener ratio for that playlist. For example, a real playlist will have more streams than listeners on your song as most people tend to stream a song more than once.
Make sure you know what’s the difference between streams and listeners on Spotify! Knowing this can be super helpful in making sure your release is on the right track.
Generally, you will be getting streams from these fraudulent sources from paid playlist placements.
What is wrong with paid playlist placements?
It has become a common practice for scammers to sell placement on playlists with lucrative stream counts and followers, with the catch being that these stream counts and followers are actually from bots, click farms, and deactivated accounts.
To learn more about fake playlists and how to spot them, check out my article: Spotify Jedi: Scam or Legit?
Regardless of where the streams came from, just know that Spotify’s system has flagged them, removed them, and they most likely will not be coming back.
The one silver lining here though is that at the end of the day the numbers reported in the Spotify For Artists dashboard are estimates and the final numbers will appear in 3 months on your actual royalty statement.
If you do not yet have access to the dashboard, learn how to get access (with or without DistroKid) by checking out my article: Does DistroKid Make A Spotify Account For You?
So what can YOU do about this?
If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, you have two simple options:
- Wait to see your actual streams on your Spotify royalty statement and use a Spotify Royalty Calculator to estimate your earnings while you patiently wait.
- Stop purchasing paid playlist placements (or at least start being more critical with which placements you pay for).
If you feel like you must keep paying for paid placements, simply do a bit more due diligence on the playlists you are paying to be placed on before committing.
Have a look at the playlist more carefully, keeping an eye out for what other artists are on the playlist and what other playlists the creator has available.
For example: one sure sign that a playlist may be sketchy is if it is simply filled with only unknown artists that may be paying to be there.
P.S. If you want to learn how to grow your own playlists and even make money from them yourself, check out my article on How To Make Money From Spotify Playlists. 🙂
What To Do If Your Spotify Stream Count Is Stuck
When your Spotify stream count has not updated in a few days, the general advice would be to simply wait it out.
From time to time, Spotify stream counts may get delayed by an extra day. However, it is important to remember that these delays really don’t happen that often.
Here are some steps you can take when your Spotify stream count has not updated in days:
- Use the Spotify For Artists dashboard. The dashboard for artists that Spotify created is the most accurate and quickly updated place to check on your stream counts. If you are using a distributor’s dashboard (like DistroKid for example), then get your tail over to the actual Spotify dashboard and get your stream counts from the horse’s mouth.
- Make sure you haven’t been doing anything sketch. I mentioned this before but, if you have been doing some sketchy things to boost your Spotify streams (like paying for bots or click farms or getting your song on playlists that do shady things like that), then Spotify may be taking longer to dig into your data to sort things out.
- Reach out to Spotify support. You can always try to contact Spotify support for clarification but they will most likely tell you to simply wait. But hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask!
Also – as a bonus tip, you could contact DistroKid (or your music distributor) but they will most likely tell you to wait as well.
What To Do If You Get Kicked Off Your Music Distributor
If Spotify thinks that you have been getting fraudulent streams there are essentially 3 things that might happen:
- Only the fraudulent streams get removed
- Your entire song gets removed
- You get kicked off your music distribution service
Spotify is taking the issue of fraudulent streams more seriously every day. With more and more artists complaining that they are getting kicked off, it looks like the punishment is getting worse and worse.
If you do get kicked off, you can use the suggestions in the above section to contact Spotify and your distributor or you may need to start looking for a new music distribution service entirely.
My top suggestion for a music distributor is definitely DistroKid, however, I’ve compared DK to other popular services if you are in the market for a new digital distributor.
Popular alternatives to a music distribution service like DistroKid include TuneCore, CdBaby, Ditto, and Amuse.
If you would like to see how DistroKid compares to these services, more closely check out this articles:
- DistroKid vs TuneCore
- DistroKid vs CdBaby
- DistroKid vs UnitedMasters
- DistroKid vs Ditto
- DistroKid vs Amuse
- DistroKid vs SoundCloud
Or, if you would like a more detailed look into what DistroKid has to offer, you can check out my big fat DistroKid review. 🙂
P.S. If you also want to learn about music publishing and make sure that you are not leaving any money on the table with your music distribution setup, I’d recommend checking out these 2 articles:
When Does Spotify Update Stream Counts Anyway?
I previously wrote an entire article on the ins and outs of how Spotify updates it’s stream counts. From researching that article and in my personal experience from releasing monthly songs on Spotify, I found out quite a bit about when Spotify says they update streams vs when they actually get updated.
Spotify states that they update their stream counts only once per day at approximately 3 PM EST. However, I’ve noticed that this time has a range and that this range actually seems to depend on the day of the week.
Earlier in the week, you can expect your Spotify stream counts to update much earlier in the day.
Between Monday and Wednesday, I’ve seen streams get updated as early as 8:30 AM EST and on most days I see it get get updated before 12 PM EST – much earlier than the 3PM EST that Spotify mentions.
Later in the week, you can more likely expect Spotify stream counts to update between 12 PM EST and 5 PM EST.
Spotify pushes out algorithmic playlists to its users on Friday, which increases the number of streams and data that is needed to update stream counts. Because Spotify is available in countries all around the world, different time zones must be taken into account.
I basically found this out by releasing music consistently as Best Friends Club on Spotify and tracking my results using a Spotify Tracker For Artists.
In fact, releasing music more frequently is one of the best ways to grow your streams on Spotify and get Spotify success.
So, if you haven’t dialed in your music production process yet, it’d be a good idea to find how long it takes to learn Ableton as a starting point (Ableton is definitely the best DAW btw).
If you’ve got the music creation on lock, then make sure you are using a music distributor that doesn’t charge you per song so that you can release music like an absolute mad lad. I’ve mentioned it before but I use and recommend DistroKid as the best music distributor.
Need help choosing?
If you want to learn more about which DistroKid plan to choose, check out my article that breaks down DistroKid pricing and plans.
I hope this article was useful and best of luck in releasing music, my friend! 🙂
How does Spotify detect fake streams?
Great question! Spotify detects fake streams by looking at the data and listening habits of the streaming account. This includes where the account is located, where the account is streaming from, how many repeat listens the account makes, and where the account listens to music.
Does Spotify count streams on repeat in 2020?
Another great question! In 2020, Spotify counts 1 stream when the song has been listened to for 30 seconds or more, regardless of what song was played before. If you listen to a song for 30 seconds and then listen to it again for 30 seconds, that will be counted as 2 streams.
Do Spotify streams count on mute?
Another great question! Spotify does not count streams that are on mute. While streaming, do not put the song on mute, or else it will not count towards streaming counts. Seems obvious but now at least you know for sure!