I Bought 16K SoundCloud Plays

I would never buy fake plays, and I strongly suggest you don’t either. You risk getting your material taken down, your account suspended, or worse.

When I received an email from Vicky Edward of Midnite Blaster, an electronic music marketing agency based in Melbourne, Australia, I was skeptical. She assured me that their SoundCloud promotional service is totally transparent and completely safe. As a longtime follower of the blog, she offered me a discount to try out and potentially review the service.

The way it works is, they have permissions for hundreds of artist, label, and influencer SoundCloud accounts to repost tracks for 24 hours. Simple enough!

Here’s rough pricing as of November 2018:

150€ 3M+ total followers, 6K – 12K plays guaranteed
300€ 6M+ total followers, 14K – 25K plays guaranteed
500€ 15M+ total followers, 30K – 50K plays guaranteed

They don’t accept every track and the minimum number of guaranteed plays varies depending on the genre and the quality of the music.

They focus on peak hour EDM, bass music, dubstep, and trap, so Vicky didn’t expect spectacular results from my synthwave stuff. She recommended going with my vaguely EDM-ish 10-minute instrumental “The Past Yet to Come”. I opted for the middle package ($340 retail at current exchange rates) for 16K guaranteed plays.

Reposts are spread out over several days rather than all at once. There’s some overlap between accounts, so spreading things out allows them to reach those followers multiple times, increasing the odds that they’ll listen to the track.

SoundCloud reposts

My track didn’t hit the 16K guaranteed plays after the first round of reposts, likely because 1) it’s not really club music, and 2) it’s ten minutes long! As a result, it didn’t get as much traction as something in their focus genres would. The final spike you see on the graph represents a second batch of reposts that were scheduled in order to hit my plays target.

Speaking of plays, here they are over the same two-week period:

SoundCloud plays

At first I was curious why the biggest chunk of plays happened on Wednesday the 24th when the majority of reposts happened four days prior. And why did the second largest number of plays occur the day before the second batch of reposts? On a Sunday, no less. 🤔

I ran it by Vicky, who explained what should have been obvious: the number of reposts is irrelevant. What actually matters is the number of followers the reposting accounts have, and how active those followers are. Some of the accounts have 2000 followers and some have half a million. Some have enthusiastic fanbases, and others grew their account years ago with followers that are no longer active.

With that in mind, I do notice a consistent bump in reposts the day before a spike in plays. The only exception is the final spike of reposts on the 29th, which were presumably from smaller accounts, because it didn’t take many more plays to reach the guaranteed 16K (and in fact they overshot it).

Okay then! We’ve established that Midnite Blaster delivers what it promises.

Here’s the track before:

Midnite Blaster After

And after:

Beyond the plays, I also got over a hundred likes, fifty-ish organic reposts, and a dozen or so positive but mostly unspecific comments. I probably got some new followers too, but to my surprise, SoundCloud doesn’t include follower count in their stats.

So who’s doing the listening?

SoundCloud top countries

Synthwave and synthpop are actually fairly popular in Russia, and I’ve even got a few Russian supporters on Patreon. I haven’t seen a lot of action historically from most of the other countries listed, but then again, I never target them.

SoundCloud top cities

I googled Tbilisi and Ulaanbaatar. They check out. 😜

Finally, how are they listening? On desktop, clearly.

SoundCloud apps

I don’t know, and I’m not sure how I could possibly measure, what the long-term repercussions of the campaign will be. One thing’s for sure — if there were a network like this dedicated to synthwave music, I’d be all over it.

If you’d like to learn more or try it for yourself, head over to Midnite Blaster. They don’t offer any sort of discount or affiliate program, but if you mention this article, I’m assured you’ll get the VIP treatment.

Have you tried Midnite Blaster? Or another SoundCloud promotion service? Tell us about it in the comments!

Photo by Rachit Tank on Unsplash

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Brian Hazard

Brian Hazard

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14 Responses

  1. This is completely fraudulent. It’s pay-for-play. Russia, Turkey, Mongolia, and many SE Asian countries are hotbeds of click farms and social media fraud. This is all illegitimate. 95% of these plays occurred on a desktop/laptop. Around 75% of legitimate Soundcloud plays occur on mobile devices. So these listeners are likely all bots. Hence, the generic comments that the track received – pre-programmed comments written before you paid for the plays.

    It doesn’t matter if the scheme falls within a platform’s terms of use or not. Pay-for-play is pay-for-play. Any way you cut it, it’s fraud, it doesn’t help you develop a fanbase, it hampers legitimate marketing efforts. If you want more people to listen to your music, book gigs, promote your online branding through offline branding, do the labour required to build a fanbase organically and legitimately. It’s not a hard nut to crack. It’s labour over time. There are no short cuts.

    1. Thanks for weighing in Simon! Fraud is a pretty strong word, and doesn’t line up with what I saw from my end.

      First off, I scanned all the reposting accounts daily, and they looked legit to me. Also, a bunch of reposts occurred as a result of the campaign. I’ve currently got 47, and again, they all look legit. Feel free to check for yourself.

      Secondly, the comments aren’t generic. Sure, some are, but many only make sense in the context of this particular track. I clicked through to check out the accounts of the more generic ones, and again, they seem legit to me.

      Finally, why would they producing hundreds of reposts from legit looking accounts in the first place? Wouldn’t it be easier to just generate fake plays directly?

      That said, I agree that the location of the plays and the fact that they took place overwhelmingly on desktop is suspicious, or at the very least, not ideal. Perhaps the reality is somewhere in the middle.

  2. Ari Herstand has written on using SoundCloud’s ability to get your music heard by paying for such services. He seems to feel it is Legit as you do. I am going to be utilizing their services myself. Ari Herstand has many workshops and interviews “serious people” in the music industry. I WOULD go to the bank with his comments. He does NOT hold back with his opinion and who he considers upfront and forward with people in the business and up and coming musicians/composers. Happy you received some positive feedback. Keep going forward. Many Blessings and prosperity to you in 2019 and the coming years. Clair Hill

    1. I’m a big fan of Ari’s, and I had the pleasure of being on a panel with him at the ASCAP Expo a few years back. Thanks for the kind words, and good luck with your promotion!

  3. dude it’s fake. this is nothing but numbers. you can get real followers and likes if you put effort into your music and promotion.

  4. The problem is, how do you evaluate if it actually helped to generate a fan base, to actually find people who genuine enjoy your music?
    Unlike the other commentators here, I don’t think those stats and interactions were generated by bots, but rather by real human beings who get paid for that.
    It’s not difficult to play a track, like and repost it and to write a comment that sounds human.
    But if those people didn’t do those things out of pure interest for your music (ask yourself: how or where did Midnight Blaster or other services like them get those people from?) in the first place.

    The problem is not paying for plays etc, that would be justifiable if the result was useful.
    The problem is not knowing if those people actually enjoy your music or not. Which of course, will become evident over the time, when the ‘promotion’ has ended and stats dwindle down.

    They may call it ‘real’ or ‘organic’, but that only means the stats and engagements came from humans. It doesn’t mean they are fans.

    1. I highly doubt any of the listeners were paid, considering how few reposts and comments there were relative to listeners. About 0.1% of listeners left a comment. If there were some mechanism in place to pay people for doing so, I’d guess it would be much higher.

      Where did they get those people from? They built up their accounts just like you or I would. I’m approaching 10K followers, very VERY slowly, as a direct result of doing absolutely nothing in particular. 😉

      More likely they use download gates and followback methods, but it depends on the outlet.

      I agree completely that listeners aren’t necessarily fans, and that it’s difficult if not impossible to measure my results in those terms.

      I’d say that if you make anything close to EDM and are looking to build a SoundCloud following, this is one potential avenue. It’s certainly better than Promote on SoundCloud!

  5. My two cents.

    Glass half full:
    Not all services like these are founded on a botnet. Actually more familiar techniques such as addmefast, like4like, kingdomlikes, etc. often employ real people to do the listening in return for “points” or actual money (extremely small amounts). Although bots exist everywhere, these services are quite strict on using bots (any automation) on their own websites, but they exist with legitimate humans doing all the liking, following, etc. To jump in and comment, without supporting statements with research or personal experience, is plain ignorance in my opinion. He offered his personal experience here, as well as his opinion, along with actual statistics. People often jump to assumptions in comments, so moving on.

    Glass half empty:
    The fact that a majority of the comments came from a computer/laptop is probably a red flag, as I’m sure most SoundCloud listens are listening with earbuds on mobile devices (my educated guess). However, any automation can easily fake any user agent.

    I definitely think it’s worth researching. I guess the only way to really tell, is after this SoundCloud promotion services stops completely, will your traffic keep building authentically.

    1. Thanks for the balanced analysis! I hadn’t considered the possibily of paying real people to listen. You’d think they would be paid to comment too, unless there was a language barrier.

      In any case, I haven’t really focused on SoundCloud in the year and a half since this campaign. I just checked my stats, hoping to see my follower growth, but it’s not tracked. NextBigSound didn’t help, and I even tried Wayback Machine!

      I doubt I had much less than 9K followers at the time. Today I have 9660 followers.

  6. hey brian, Iv been following your strategies and trying to implement them as and when possible. With this post specifically, i wanted to know if there was any increase in your following on soundcould. I feel that could weigh up on the legitimacy of the plays/likes. If at all there were any click farms behind it, you wouldnt be getting much following out of it. whereas atleast a fair amount of those likes could convert into follows if there were legit listeners instead.
    Also its worth mentioning that theres a high possibility of them being genuine as they offer the beatport top 100 promotion. Now you would fall into the top 100 only through your sales. And theres no other way to make that many sales apart from actually having it put across to people (unless they end up buying that track form multiple accounts to make it happen)

    1. I wasn’t familiar with the Beatport Top 100 promotion! I’ve more or less neglected SoundCloud since this campaign, other than testing their ads platform. As SoundCloud doesn’t include follower counts in their stats, I really don’t know how many followers this campaign generated, if any. Sorry I can’t be more helpful!

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Brian Hazard is a recording artist with over twenty years of experience promoting eleven Color Theory albums, and head mastering engineer and owner of Resonance Mastering in Huntington Beach, California.

His Passive Promotion blog emphasizes “set it and forget it” methods of music promotion.

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