Artificial Streaming is when a user attempts to increase their play counts on a track in the streaming music stores using various means (and thus, increase their revenue). It can be done by the artist, their fans, or through the use of scripts or bots or services offering to "boost" your popularity in the stores. This is also sometimes referred to as "streaming fraud", "click fraud", or "gaming the music stores".
This type of abuse is strictly forbidden by the music stores and they may remove and ban your content from their platforms if they detect it and will not payout the fraudulent revenue that would have been generated. It is also a violation of their terms of service and in some opinions is actually illegal under section (a)(4) of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
This activity is also strictly forbidden by Catapult and we may remove and ban your content from our platform if we detect it and per our terms of service we may even pass your information onto either the music stores or law enforcement if requested.
The music stores will detect this abuse. They have spent considerable resources developing new methods of detecting artificial streaming and once they detect an instance of it, they may pull the content from their platform, ban the content from ever being able to be delivered into their platform again, and remove these artificial streams from their payments. They sometimes even request user information from the distributors related to the user that submitted the content into the distributors platform. Per Catapult's terms of service, we will always provide user information to the music stores when requested if it relates to Artificial Streaming.
When a user purposely engages in artificial streaming, it actually is theft and is stealing revenue from all of the other artists in the music stores. For every artificial stream that takes place, the total royalty pool for a given time period is diluted by that same amount (Since royalty revenue is determined by a pro-rata share of subscription revenue) and payouts for other artists will decrease. This takes money out of the hands of artists who are actually legitimate artists trying to earn a living with their art.
Catapult has zero tolerance for this type of purposeful abuse and we take pro-active steps to prevent our system from being used for this type of fraud. Further, when a music store informs us of Artificial Streaming for a given album or track, we may immediately pull that album from our distribution platform and per our terms of service we may cancel the user's account at Catapult and/or take-down their entire catalog of albums.
Once an album has been pulled or an account has been cancelled for Artificial Streaming, there is nothing that can be done to restore the album or the account.