No, The Major Labels Didn't Fake 2 Billion YouTube Views

from the manipulations... dept

The record labels have a long history of knowing how to manipulate key numbers to their advantage. Look how labels have manipulated the various charts over the years and you’ll find that it’s a big part of how they do business. So it probably struck little by surprise to hear that the labels were now being accused of massively manipulating YouTube view counts to make certain songs look a hell of a lot more popular than they really are. The only problem? It’s not actually true.

The DailyDot — who normally does a fantastic job — broke the story that got most of the attention, reporting:

Google slashed the cumulative view counts on YouTube channels belonging to Universal Music Group, Sony/BMG, and RCA Records by more than 2 billion views Tuesday, a drastic winter cleanup that may be aimed at shutting down black hat view count-building techniques employed by a community of rogue view count manipulators on the video-sharing site.

Universal’s channel is the one that took the biggest hit. According to figures compiled by the YouTube statistics analysts at SocialBlade, the record company’s YouTube channel lost more than 1 billion views from its preexisting tally of 7 billion views Tuesday.

Lots of other publications then picked up on the Daily Dot version and suddenly the story was everywhere — in particular claiming that the labels were being punished for faked video views. Only problem? That’s not really true. The report suggests that YouTube has begun a big campaign against view inflation by YouTube users across the board. That part is true. But the untrue part is that the major labels were faking so many views. Instead, it turns out that most of the issue was just that the labels had moved their videos from YouTube to Vevo — the online video site that the labels had started a few years ago (built on top of YouTube technology). As Billboard notes, the “de-spamming” effort did delete about 1.5 million views from Sony and Universal Music videos — so there may be some funny business, but that’s tiny compared to the 2 billion views that disappeared. But the reason those went away was much more mundane:

The answer comes in the second way that YouTube changed its view count. The company recently decided to remove view counts for videos that are no longer live on the channel, or so-called “dead videos.” For Universal and Sony, that meant thousands of music videos that over the past three years slowly have migrated to the VEVO channel, which is jointly owned by the two companies. A senior label executive confirmed the migration….

That meant high-profile videos that once lived separately on the Universal and Sony YouTube channels have been relocated to Vevo. As a result, the views that those videos received during their time on the dedicated label channels were taken away in YouTube’s latest “clean up” effort.

In other words, those views happened; they weren’t “faked” or even double counted when they went on to Vevo. But because the videos are no longer on the channel, YouTube considers them “dead videos.” They still live on in YouTube, just under a different channel.

Considering how many people have been sending this story over, I know lots of people would like to believe Sony Music and Universal Music faked 2 billion views and were now being punished for it, but it’s just not the case.

Filed Under: , , , ,
Companies: google, sony music, universal music, vevo

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Comments on “No, The Major Labels Didn't Fake 2 Billion YouTube Views”

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out_of_the_blue says:

ALSO majorly ASSUMES that we can trust Youtube.

Of course I don’t, nor Arbitron, nor Google, nor ANY rating agencies who’ve inherest self-interest in creating big numbers. All corporations are money-grubbing and corrupt.

So part of this is surely that Youtube is inflating its own “good guy” image.

Take a loopy tour of! You always end up at same place!
You’ve found the site of The Quipper himelf: Mike “Streisand Effect” Masnick!

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: ALSO majorly ASSUMES that we can trust Youtube.

This is why I don’t believe in copyright. Not only does it not make sense on its own terms, but the people who argue for it? They’re all bat-shit insane.

Okay, blue, let’s take it for granted that Youtube is corrupt. How is it corrupt in this case? It basically just moved videos from one channel to another. That is all.
What’s the point of linking to techdirt…on Techdirt? Of course one would end up on Techdirt if they clicked on a link to Techdirt on Techdirt…it is you who has created this “loopy tour”!

See? I’d have at least some respect for copyright if those arguing in favour of it had at least some sense of logic and sense in their comments here. Nope, all we ever get is the purest of insanity.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: ALSO majorly ASSUMES that we can trust Youtube.

Hmm –

Let me translate your comment

Mike is always wrong – even if

1) It isn’t Mike

2) He is saying something in favour of the people he normally opposes and who you normally support.

If he were to applaud your own comments as insightful then you would still find a way of claiming that he is wrong….

Ninja (profile) says:

I wonder why not use both channels and promote their own channel (Vevo) within Youtube. In any case I’d like to set up polls here if possible:

1- Ever heard about Vevo before this article? YES/NO (My reply would be hard here, I kind of remember the name from some older article but I’m not sure so I’d just hit yes).

2- Now that they are moving the content, are you planing to adopt it as a site you regularly visit? YES/NO (Most definitely no).

It is interesting, I remember a while back when I still watched MTV and music clips (we are talking about like 10-15 years ago and my little underage me) and I actually liked to leave the TV tuned in music clip channels. These holidays a friend of mine tuned up some music channel we have here, MixTV, and I was amazed on how the clips annoyed the heck out of me. The quality of the music dropped significantly outside of the spectrum I actively follow (symphonic, metal and some regional rhythms from Brazil) and by dropped significantly I mean it became annoying to listen to some of the pop garbage that comes directly from the MAFIAA to the mainstream.

I was reading some article about how the overall complexity and artistic value of music has fallen but to the point you are annoyed by it?

The Real Michael says:

Actually, the labels really do manipulate their channel views by paying robot companies to artificially inflate views. They (the labels) even purchase their own music in order to boost their own popularity. It’s an old-hat marketing ploy. Heck, people can pay robot companies to play games for them while they’re away for a time.

Does anyone honestly believe that over a hundred million people wanted to watch MVs by Bieber, Gaga or J-Lo, while they’re hard-pressed as it is to sell break a hundred-thousand sales for a song?

Grimm Factor Music (user link) says:

Re: Re:

Michael, you speak nothing but the truth bro. There’s no way any of this adds up. Millions of views, radio spins, plays, streams, visits, and likes yet barely going gold for one album or barely breaking 100,000 in sales for a song? If that doesn’t show inflation I don’t know what does. VeVo my ass. They did the same thing on myspace. There were artists getting 100K plays or better on myspace but barely had 500 friends/fans and you never heard of these guys mainstream.

Of course Billboard is going to come to the major labels aid. Without them who would Billboard have to promote as far as music? Oh I know, REAL ARTISTS THAT CREATE REAL MUSIC AND GET REAL SPINS AND PLAYS!!

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