The controversy surrounding the Badshah and his song ‘Pagal’ refuses to go away. Almost three weeks after the Sony Music India claimed it had broken the most views in 24 hours record, YouTube has stayed silent on the matter. Furthermore, they have not even put the song in its top 100 for any of the weekly charts since its release.
So has Badshah and his song Pagal actually changed how YouTube is measuring views?
Let’s make no bones about this, India is a huge priority for YouTube. A company which is relying on emerging countries for most of its growth. India is both YouTube’s largest market—some 265 million Indians visit YouTube every month—and home to its most popular channel. T-Series, India’s largest record label, operates the only channel with more than 100 million subscribers.
So does YouTube want to upset India? Possibly not, does it need to show clarity? 100%. The situation is tricky, especially when you think the new style of ‘un-organic’ views is something they pretty much benefit from.
The old-style fake view:
Dubious view counts are nothing new for Google, which has refunded companies for ads that ran on sites with fake traffic. The problem was particularly thorny in India, where music companies employed bots and server farms to boost the number of views for a video. Views from a computer or bot are considered illegitimate since no human is actually watching the video. These have become very easy to trace and the patterns and techniques used are being picked up by YouTube algorithms.
The new-style of ‘un-organic’ views:
Badshah and his representatives had purchased advertisements from Google and YouTube that embedded the video or directed fans to it in some other way.
The incident has led to scrutiny of what many in the music industry say is a common practice—buying tens of millions of views. When releasing a new single, major record labels will buy an advertisement on YouTube that places their music video in between other clips. If viewers watch the ad for more than few seconds, YouTube counts that as a view, boosting the overall total.
The practice creates doubts about the real popularity of these clips and reveals some of the murky ways in which artists and their labels promote their music—especially in emerging markets. YouTube, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, is now reevaluating the way it judges records.
Many music companies have moved away from the fake view on to ads. Companies can either buy ads that direct viewers to the music video or employ the video in the ad itself. Buying clicks is now so widespread that many artists in India demand a certain number of YouTube views in their contracts.
“They make clear to the label that they expect something,” said Mandar Thakur, chief operating officer of Times Music
The use of Google’s advertising products to drive views puts YouTube in an awkward position. Viewer records support their contention that YouTube is the most popular music service in the world and that artists and labels should invest more time and money on the site. YouTube introduced a product called Premieres in 2018 for artists to debut new material.
Google also makes money every time one of these music companies buys an ad, so eliminating the practice would hurt.
But have YouTube moved the goalposts? For the last two weeks, songs with claims of 20 million views or even as low as 5 million views from Punjabi artists have not now figured in the actual YouTube charts which are released each week.
Have YouTube removed the view count of ad-based videos? Is the Organic view now king? If yes then about time! So how can you listener tell if something is genuine or not?
If we take the song Baby Baby the actual Saga Music page shows in excess of 20 million views. Yet the song failed to chart in the YouTube music charts, so this highlights that the song has had its ad-based views removed. Only the genuine views are counted towards the charts.
When songs #Trend – this once again does not mean the song will chart in the actual official Youtube charts? Why? Trending songs are supported by ads purchased, so even if an artist boasts they are trending, in reality, it is the ads that are trending and the official charts will dictate if the song is actually being viewed by music fans.
How long music fans watch a video for via a paid ad will have now had its parameters moved also. It does now seem that a few seconds of viewing an ad will NOT count as a view!
Things just got interesting, and each week we will be printing the Youtube charts with comparisons from big Punjabi songs released so that fans can actually tell the difference between genuine views and paid for views!