Earlier this week, it was announced that Selena Gomez has officially dethroned Drake as Spotify's most streamed artist. Drake had 46,114,143 monthly listeners as of November 10th, whereas Gomez reached 46,202,009 that same day. This also made Selena the second female ever to top the #1 monthly listener chart on Spotify next to Rihanna. Though the news definitely came as a shock to many considering Selena hasn't released an album since 2015.
While Gomez has released numerous successful singles since her last album Revival, fans were extremely skeptical that those singles alone could carry Gomez to the number one spot on the platform. Especially considering her most recent singles haven't done as well on the charts.
No hate but who actually listens to her music?? Like "aye play some Selena Gomez rn"? What https://t.co/gGOiFUajz4— Dre 🍭 (@dre_dizzzle) November 12, 2018
I have never in my life met an actual person who deliberately listens to Selena Gomez— ma tha falka (@RiaaaMedina) November 12, 2018
There’s no way with the numbers she does, that I don’t know someone who listens to Selena Gomez and that’s terrifying— cholula fan acct (@tjiauna) November 11, 2018
i saw something about how she has empty warehouses of computers streaming her music and usually i'd be like oh that's just bitter talking but i really don't know one person who listens to her and i have never in my life heard the phrase "hey have you heard that new selena gomez" https://t.co/QZAdPAWVVo— merry jane (@vivianaudreyy) November 12, 2018
As a result, fans did some digging and have theories regarding Gomez's rise on Spotify. Some believe that her label could be using automated bots to boost her numbers via phones hooked up to Spotify to stream her music 24/7. Similar to this click farm in China that automates likes and comments:
Labels supposedly buy mad phones, connect them to WiFi and stream their artist non-stop lol pic.twitter.com/yxQh950TBo— Water Technique (@CerromeZONE) November 11, 2018
While it may be hard to believe, automated Spotify streams aren't a new concept and have actually been monetized by many companies who sell streams to artists. It's a similar system used by companies offering bought Instagram likes or comments. Depending on the amount of money you are willing to shell out, you can gain up to 10,000 plays on a song per day.
Some companies are so determined to help artists sneak under the radar that they warn artists not to pay for more than 10,000 streams as it's easier to get caught by Spotify when you try to rack up that many automated streams at a time. Fraudulent streams haven't been a Spotify-exclusive issue though, as other platforms such as Tidal have been facing similar hurdles.
It would definitely be a risky move for Selena Gomez and her label to use automated streams to push her to the number one slot. Her success is probably due to her ability to constantly land on Spotify playlists thanks to being an accredited artist. Though considering some believe that payola for radio play is still very common in the industry regardless of it being illegal, who knows what could be happening behind the scenes.
Clearly, the new world of streaming is a tough one to navigate. Regardless of whether or not Gomez really did use bots for streams or it's just a crazy fan theory, the issue of fraudulent bots on Spotify is still present. Considering Instagram's crackdown on bots in the past few years, it will be interesting to see what kind of response Spotify offers in the near future considering bought streams are becoming more and more common.