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How To Spot Fake Spotify Playlists

How To Spot Fake Spotify Playlists

music streaming: tips and tricks Apr 17, 2024

Botted Playlists: Everything You Need To Know

In this vast playlist ecosystem created by Spotify, there are different kinds of playlists, some good and some bad. Some playlists are editorial, some algorithmic, some are indie and some are just filled with bots, which is why music artists need to learn more about playlists and avoid the botted ones while pitching their music to curators.


In this article, we have tried to answer a few questions:

  1. What is a fake Spotify playlist?

  2. Why is it important to recognize one?

  3. How to identify a fake Spotify playlist?

  4. Why should you avoid them?

  5. Our final thoughts

What is a fake Spotify playlist?


A fake Spotify playlist is one created by a curator who usually targets fake streams and listeners to tracks added to their playlist. Thousand of bots have different profiles that follow the curator and their playlists on Spotify and the number of listeners for the playlist are mostly bots, not real users of Spotify. The streams coming in from the bots are counted as valid, but getting your music into one of these playlists could destroy your Spotify presence because you could hurt your chances with Spotify’s algorithm and could even get your music banned from Spotify.


Why is it important to recognize one?


There are many botted playlists on the platform because of how easy it is to create an account on Spotify. Separating the authentic ones that have the organic following from the fake ones that have botted followers becomes extremely important for an artist to pitch music to the right curators. 


Is Spotify doing anything? Well, Spotify’s system has inbuilt incentives for bots. Since stream counts directly translate to money, bot streams seem to be doing just the job for upcoming artists. But it doesn’t make sense to engage with fake playlists just to boost your numbers, that’s not the way you should be thinking about your music career. Spotify has also been taking active steps in policing this and bans artists who have a lot of bot streams on their music. 


Spotify is trying hard to tackle this issue but today, this problem is still at large and as musicians, it’s best to be aware of what’s happening so continue reading. 


How to identify a fake Spotify playlist?


Stream Count

Ideally, your streams should be distributed throughout several locations; however, if you see that they are coming from a single location, it’s probably a fake Spotify playlist. Additionally, some fake Spotify playlists show growth, and following that feels a little strange and wonky because it won’t have a normal distribution in a graph. 

As you can see, the graph shows a steady growth over the span of two whole years. In the second graph, you can see that the listeners dipped for a brief amount of time and grew back up for a year. This is the graph of an authentic playlist that does not have botted streams coming in for any song that has been added. 


The numbers sometimes look too good to be true. This rapid shooting of stream count comes from the fact that all followers of the fake Spotify playlist listen to your track in a single day. For example, if your music has been added to a playlist that has 560,008 followers then all of these followers would stream your track in a single day - giving a sudden boost in stream count for you. Needless to say, that’s impossible and this happens mainly because these users aren’t even real - they are botted. 

Pssst…come here: There should either be a gradual increase in listeners or there should be some ups and downs in the graph. A stream count of exactly 1,000 streams every day from a playlist, means that the playlist is botted. Real numbers that probably look like, 1294, 946, or 854 could allude that the playlist is authentic. 


Doesn’t appear in the ‘Discovered On’ Section 


A good Spotify playlist should ideally appear on the ‘Discovered On’ section of the artist's profile on Spotify. What does this section mean? 


-> Every artist has a 'Discovered On' section on their Spotify profile.

(This is only visible on Spotify for Desktop, you can't view this on the mobile app)

--> The 'Discovered On' section shows which playlists the artist was discovered on. 

--> Basically, a list of the top playlists that got the artist the most number of streams.

Playlists that appear in this section translate to ‘high quality’ that Spotify recognizes. The ‘Discovered On’ feature offers playlisters insightful data on the reach and popularity of their playlists. Curators may learn which songs are popular with listeners and adjust the playlist content by looking at which songs have been discovered on their playlists. To gain more followers, they may also use this information to update their playlists with songs that are currently popular or trending.


Some fake Spotify playlists do not appear on any of the artist’s profiles, because of the way the playlists would have been built. Some fake playlists do make it to the ‘Discovered On’ section but with Spotify’s policing and issuing penalties on music distribution services, the situation does look a little tricky. Additionally, the streaming platform is aware of when users are abusing its algorithm, therefore using Payola or bot-based placements will not get you authentic playlist positions on Spotify. The streaming platform recognizes these playlists and places them on the low-quality radar, so these do not make it to the ‘Discovered On’ section. 

It is also important to understand when this playlist was started and since when it’s been growing. If it was started on April 02 2024 and you see that the playlist gained 25k listeners on April 04 2024, then it’s likely fake - gaining 25k listeners in just two days doesn’t make any sense, so we can assume that the curator has bots on his playlist.


Pssst…come here: These playlists also have mixed genres and themes. Arctic Monkeys and Sabrina Carpenter will be on the same playlist - yes, it won’t make any sense. Organic playlists have a recurring theme and a set genre/mood of the playlist they prioritize, so unless your track fits the atmosphere of the playlist, you won’t get a placement. With fake playlists, your track could get included even with the differences in genres and themes. 




It’s a no-no if the curator offers paid placement. This means that you submit your track to the curator and pay them a placement fee (not a submission fee), for a guaranteed placement which is a practice called Payola; illegal and could get you in trouble. In addition to the possibility of providing fake streams, it is against Spotify’s regulations and illegal to pay to be featured in a playlist. Remember that Spotify has the right to delete your song or entire album from the service if it finds evidence of fraudulent streaming. It would be wiser to avoid taking that risk. We definitely aren’t for Payola but if you end up doing it, just make sure that the playlist doesn’t have bot streams. 


Pssst….come here: Spotify playlists analyzers like cannot fully rely on confirming if a playlist is organic or fake because if they are botted, the stream counts and the data could be manipulated. However, could do just the job for you and flag playlists that are botted.



Why should you avoid them?

The rapid rise in stream count may be very tempting and you may even consider it as a one-off, but it will affect you long-term because Spotify will note it and eventually give you lesser or limited chances with algorithmic playlists like Release Radar and Discovery Weekly. It just isn’t worth the risk, because such placements wouldn’t add any value to your music growth on the streaming app. 


Our Final Thoughts

Spotify has almost monopolized the music-streaming industry, and different stakeholders participate in the operations, the music artists, playlist curators (independent, record labels), as well as listeners. There is harmony between the stakeholders due to the assured quality of music making as well as the music streaming experience. Fake playlists compromise on this quality and affect the music industry at large. It is important to recognize and choose to not walk down that path no matter how inviting it looks.


Unlike a lot of curators who indulge in payola and botted traffic, we have a well-knit network of independent playlist curators who are 100% legit and verified. Submit your music to us through our submission platform and get a chance to reach more than 2 million listeners if you'd like to get playlisted on authentic playlists! 

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