Real Fake Switch Showing That The Item Is Genuine
Let’s get something out of the way right now:

Buying fake views, fans, followers and traffic is a VERY BAD idea.

Now let’s take a step back and explain.

Over the last two weeks, a story broke on The Daily Dot blog claiming that Youtube had stripped over 2 BILLION views from Sony and Universal’s Youtube channels due to a breach of their user agreement….

In other words, the claim was the Sony and Universal were being stripped of 2 billion FAKE views.

As it turns out, this wasn’t really the truth. It became understood that what Youtube was really doing was transferring views from old, ‘dead’ videos from their Youtube channels, over to the active videos on the VEVO channel for each company. The two major labels actually own stake in VEVO and have been working on phasing out their old Youtube channels.

But whether or not Sony and Universal were actually stripped of 2 billion fake views or not isn’t so much the point…

The fact that fake views have become SO common in the overall conversation of digital promotion, to a point where major blogs and publications are jumping to conclusions (and almost logically so) about companies buying fake views to increase their overall presence is disturbing.

The reason so many people have made the decision to buy fake (fans, followers, views, traffic)?

  • Lack of education about how to truthfully build visibility online

The common thought here is that more views or fans or followers = increased likelihood that it (a video, a profile, a website) will rank higher and be seen by more people.

This is only VERY partially correct, but mostly it’s wrong. I’ll explain more below.

  • Lack of education about how the music industry works

The common thought by far too many independent musicians is that more views, fans and followers = increased likelihood to be ‘discovered’ by the industry, creating an opportunity to sign with a label.

This is wrong. Very, very wrong. Again, I’ll explain more below.

So let’s take a look at 4 reasons why buying fake anything online won’t lead to the success it is so widely thought to bring.

1. Can Cause Detrimental Damage To Overall Visibility Of Pages

As mentioned above, many artists end up buying fake because they think it will increase the likelihood that they will rank higher and be seen by more people. While it IS true that having higher numbers will weigh your content stronger in search results making it more likely to be seen, there are two ways this will even more likely have the opposite effect.

1. Follow (or view) numbers are only half the battle when it comes to the way sites will rank you in a search.

The other half comes from the ratio of engaged followers to overall followers. If you have a Facebook page with 100,000 likes (fans) but 2 people talking about the page, Facebook will still look at this page as small in terms of influence and will likely weigh it very poorly in their EdgeRank algorithm, making it far less likely that your page will ever be seen by fans in their News Feed.

What is more likely to be seen? A page with 1000 total fans and 300 people talking about it, or a page with 100,000 likes and 2 people talking about it. You better believe it’s going to be the former.

2. A page or video flagged as spam is as good as dead.

Fake followers are likely to create disharmony on your page. Quite often fake followers and views come from either fake accounts or people in remote parts of the world, but there are instances where the followers or views bought come from real people who’s accounts had been hacked and they ‘liked’ the page against their will.

In these cases, if even a single person acknowledges the fact that they themselves didn’t ‘like’ or ‘follow’ your page and decides to flag your page as spam, Facebook (or Twitter, or Youtube) will forever hold this page as damaged goods. Think of this as your credit score. Once it’s been determined that you have poor credit, it becomes near impossible to reverse the process.

2. Fake Numbers Will Damage Your Reputation, Making Any Sort of PR More Difficult

Transparency is everything when it comes to social media marketing and PR. If you are reaching out to new media makers such as bloggers and podcasters, or are even trying to get the attention of new potential fans, a big piece of the puzzle in differentiating yourself from the competition is your social media presence.

Again, having big follower or view numbers are nice, but if a blogger heads over to your Youtube channel and sees that you have 10,000 views on your latest video, but zero comments and likes, or even worse, irrelevant spam comments (a VERY common result of buying fake views), you better believe that blogger is going to move on, never to return.

The same can absolutely be said for the music industry as a whole.

A misconception is that a record label will sign you if only you had a million fans or views. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Record labels may be known to be a bit behind the curve when it comes to social media, but they are not stupid. They know fake followers and likes when they seem them, and even more so, they know that an engaged fan base (not just a big fan base) is what will lead to sales.

3. Fake Numbers Won’t Lead to Conversions That Matter

Ah the ol’ ‘ROI of social media’ discussion. Well as a matter of fact, there is a GREAT metric for anyone to use relating to their social media strategy:

The conversion of fans from ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ to mailing list subscribers.

It is the mailing list subscribers who are most likely to purchase from you, making them qualified customers on a long-term basis.

Focusing on fake numbers to boost your ego and supposed ‘visibility’ will not at all effect your conversion rate, keeping your social presence full of fluff, yet keeping your progress made towards a larger, engaged, purchase-ready fan base small. All this does is draw out how long it will take you to achieve success.

4. Destroys Your Ability To Analyze Your True Fan Base

A huge part of creating an effective social media strategy is understanding who your fan are and where they live so that you can create timely and relevant content that speaks to them directly. Analytics will not only help to see what content is being engaged with the most (helping you to plan better content) but also the demographics of how old your fans are and where they live, helping you to plan better shows or even tours.

By purchasing fake likes, followers and views, you are effectively destroying your ability to use any sort of analytics, keeping you in the dark about who your real fan are, where they live and what drives them.

No business would build a marketing strategy without understanding who their customers are, and as a musician (an entrepreneur), nor should you.

What Damage Have You Seen Done By The Purchase Of Fake?

Whether you tried to buy fake likes, followers or views yourself, or have seen other musicians succumb to this trap, we want to hear from you! Share your experiences with this in the form of a comment below.

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27 Responses to “4 Reasons Buying Fake Numbers Can Destroy Your Music Career”

  1. Steph Barrak

    What if another person has posted a well-produced video of you on YouTube and you suspect that they have purchased views, but you think it’s a great quality video and want to promote it to your fans and press contacts? Do you still run the risk of harming your reputation?

    • Jon Ostrow

      Hey Steph, thanks for reading and GREAT question! This is definitely a sticky situation, but ultimately I think if the video is on someone else’s channel, there isn’t anything you can do about it – and fortunately I think the negative reactions will mostly effect the owner of the channel and not the artist featured within the video (hence people pointing fingers at Sony and Universal for having possibly bought ‘fake’ likes, and not the artists signed to their label). 

      Another important note here though, is that if you paid for a well-produced video, you should have the rights to it and should be allow to claim the ownership of the video on your own channel instead of someone else’s… just food for thought for you there 🙂

  2. Jasmine Johnson

    I have seen some music pages with like 110k Likes and my heart sinks because I think of how far I have to go still.. then I look down and there has been NO conversations or Post since like JULY and feel better LOL!!! I would HATE having 100k people and no one chatting. It’s like being lonely in a crowd instead of by your self!

    • Jon Ostrow

      That is EXACTLY the point, and problem. So many artists are focused solely on the size of a fan base, thinking they needs tens, or hundreds of thousands of ‘fans’ to succeed, when in reality that number really simply equates to ‘potential eyeballs’ and nothing else. With FAR less actual, engaged fans, you can have a sustainable, successful career in music! 

  3. Brenda K

    This is something I have always taken a dim view of for the exact reasons described above, i.e., obscuring information that could otherwise be useful, and around this time last year was nonplussed by a sharp increase in people “fanning” us on ReverbNation that had nothing to do with any effort on my part.  It didn’t take me too long to figure out what was going on: apparently something new had been done to the RN platform to enable this, so all of a sudden bands began randomly spam-fanning everyone else on the network in order to inflate their own stats!  I found that quite annoying since my email subscription list is hosted on the RN FanReach service and this is just clogging up my newsletter list with dead weight.  

    Anyone have any ideas of how to fend this off, or why RN would have enabled a practice that Myspace already proved to be a colossal fail?  

    • Jon Ostrow

      Thanks for the reply Brenda! I actually was unaware of the issue with RN but I’ll be sure to look into that. They are really good people over there so I’m surprised to here that. 

      • Pastor Fischer

         I think most that do mass introductions to others do not take the time to join a mailing list. and all you have to do is not fan them back. for some lost in a sea of 2 million artists introducing yourself to others DOES create real fans who would never have known you exist. It is not spamming it is introducing your self and by being fanned your personal numbers grow too. They can introduce themselves to me all they want. I am the beneficiary. And I even get to listen to some good music once in a while. It is easy to spot because they have lots of followers but no plays.

      • Brenda K

        Thanks Jon!  I have always been impressed with their user support.

    • Joshua

      This has always been an issue on ReverbNation. I have been using the platform for years and despite their many updates and design changes, artists still go around fanning every one blindly and joining mailing list.

      There are also services known as social media exchanges and ReverbNation is one of the services they allow users to add fans. This contributes to the issue as well.Brenda, I am with you. This practice dilutes the RN experience greatly. Because of the “dead weight”, it makes using their mailing list service nearly useless.

      I tried using FanReach for a while but had the same issues so we switched services and force people to join our mailing list from our website.

  4. Barbara Gibbons

    Hey. I just read your article. Great read. I agree with the points that you’ve made, but I have to tell you that I bought a moderate number of followers, views, likes and it worked out to my advantage.  Yesss buying 20,30,50,100k is absurd, but a small amount may be able to help. if you know how to use them correctly. I’ve tripled my fan base with a small purchase.

  5. harry versluys

    Thanks for pointing all this out. It’s really quite disturbing. But I also believe it depends on the way one profiles oneself. I was lucky to have some real friends, out of “3000” fans/friends there are about 20 who wrote sensible stuff to me. That’s how it goes in real life too. Out of a thousand people you meet a dozen or so become real friends who care. Why would it be any different on the net? 

    THERE IS ONE IMPORTANT REASON TO LET THIS STORY SINK IN: the possible damage we could do to non suspecting members on various social networks, the hacked ones. Terrible. Again: THANKS for pointing all this out.

  6. Christian Jensen

    I signed up for reverb nation about a month ago and received a message in my inbox within a couple of weeks from a company promoting fan likes, etc.  They were truthful enough- they actually said in bold letters “these are not real fans.”  In my opinion it is self-defeating, for all of the reasons listed above.  I want to know how many fans I actually have and want them to be legit.  When I get credit and gain exposure I want it to be because I worked hard for it and earned it.  We’ve all worked our butts off to get where we are and, while it is true that there many things to do to help you get a leg up in this business, this should not be one of them.  Work hard, write good music, promote yourself with integrity and at least you will be able to say you got what you honestly deserved.

  7. ISH Hubby n Wife Duo

    I made the mistake of purchasing twitter followers last year. Some of the things that you mentioned weren’t true, I was being told that they were really important. So, I bought 5,000 followers. Big mistake! Twitter’s team was finding the fake accounts and deleting them. People who had been hacked were unfollowing. I was losing almost 300 followers per day. It looked horrible. Eventually, all of the followers were removed, and I was able to gradually and genuinely gain followers over time. I wouldn’t recommend that anyone purchase fake followers, views, or likes. Just put in the time and work to build organically. 

  8. nic

    I bought 10000 views for my youtube video and since then I have gained over 600 views. It seems like the purchased views made my video show higher in the search and led to genuine views. Am I seeing this right?

    • John Taglieri

      So, how many total views does that video have now?

      • nic

        over 11000 views now. so i suppose i have gained over 1200 genuine views since then. but still no comments on the video good or bad.. i dont know what to think

        • John Taglieri

          Usually means the other 1200 are residuals from the buy…and if someone sees that many views and NO comments, it tells them right away you bought them, which ultimately hurts your cred…

          • nic

            oh ok so they are residuals. Makes sense, but then again I know that since I bought the views my video shows up in the search a whole lot easier than before I bought the views. Isnt that a good thing? How do I know for sure that no one is watching it? And how does this ultimately hurt my credibility?

          • John Taglieri

            But if no one from your fan base is searching for you, what good does it do? Someone who has NO idea who you are isnt going to search you out for no reason. And it hurts the cred because anyone worth their weight in the business can tell that 10000 views and not one comment means you bought them and no real fans are involved. No real fans = no interest = no income = no need to work with. Always better to build organically and have your fans be involved in the growth. Even real fans can tell when its fake and when it’s not. If you have a Facebook page and 1000 fans, and you suddenly go to 11k fans, your 1000 real ones are gonna notice, roll their eyes and not take you as genuine. And in this day and and age of transparency, being taken as not genuine by your fans means bye bye…

          • nic

            Ok I think I got it. So the bottom line is, that if they are not real fans (meaning those who will actually support you buy showing up at your shows and purchasing your music) then its of no value anyway? So I guess the wisest course to take is to encourage your real fans (people who actually like your music in person) to like you on facebook ,follow you on twitter, and look for you on youtube etc. Because it is only these real fans anyway who will truly support you by spending a dollar to support you in the first place. Am I seeing this right?

          • Anonymous

            If people view your video, but don’t comment or like/dislike it, this means they most likely didn’t finish the video, didn’t care to watch it, whatever. Views mean very little. If you have 1 million views, and 3 comments, even if those million views were not bought, it still hurts, because they most likely viewed it for a couple seconds and moved on. To me, honestly, that is the same thing as not liking your video but choosing to not “dislike” it with the button. They think that by hitting dislike, it will hurt you…but, they don’t realize, even the dislike button will add more cred to your account.
            (Had this discussion with a few of my legitimate fans)

  9. guy

    Major Labels use millions of fake views lol…they just strategically know what they’re doing

  10. Carrot Top

    So, what can we do if there is a channel we suspect of cheating their subs, views, likes?

  11. wayne davies

    Genuine thanks for this article. I have considered buying likes / hits / views for quite some time but never really felt it was the right thing to do. Now I see that there are some serious downsides to this form of promotion.

  12. Elektra


    My label and I are dealing with an artist name theft by a girl from Brazil, who now also pretends it’s her real name as well. As the first Elektra, I’ve released material for more than a decade, and have received national and international acclaim. However, since the fake likes and related kicked in on social media, my label and I are dealing with a first case of a huge amount of bought likes, youtube views, twitter incl. in my artist name, which misleads my audience and gives off a wrong impression. This person also found a way to verify (!) my artist name on social media, and social media refused to cooperate so far, for after all “they represent the interest of those who fund them”, and artist trademarks (the first cometh – the first taketh) laws don’t seem to count to them. An industry insider, who’s also fighting against these practices, has informed me few days ago that on twitter alone 1 billion of USD is annually being made on fake likes alone.
    Kind attempts to persuade this person to choose her own artist name has not led to any positive results. The bottom line is: how many albums and how much acclaim does an artist require to have in order not to deal with this kind of, pardon my language, bullshit?
    I also notice that if you go on social media in these times, and you don’t become their paying client, you become sort of invisible.
    My label and I have operated with mailing lists all these years, and we plan on pursuing this, as I can’t even go on facebook anymore using my own (!) artist name. My immense hard work, dedication, vision, and working against all odds, now leaves me with a girl who, as irony remains, played in a band called “Fake Number”, and who obviously never heard of work ethics, nor respecting her colleague’s hard work. Not to mention: how unoriginal to choose an artist name which has already build a reputation! I’ve talked about social media more in-depth in the most recent interview, take a look: So thank you for this article, and I hope I don’t have to spend my hard earned money – all by my own effort, as I do everything myself – on a lawyer…


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