Shifting trends in online habits mean the music industry has become exposed to the phenomenon of "click fraud," and one expert suggests the threat will only grow over the coming years.
This type of fraud happens typically when automated "bots" imitate human online browsing by repeatedly clicking on a web page, incentivized by a pay-per-click business model. Fraudsters have found a new target in music streaming sites like Spotify and Deezer. Many music streaming sites pay out royalties to artists and songwriters, who are rewarded each time someone listens to their track.
The bots masquerade as fake artists and create fake tracks, often mimicking tunes from established artists. The bots then repeatedly play the audio streams, generating revenue with each click. The fraudsters use multiple Spotify accounts in the hope of remaining undetected, according to Rich Kahn, the CEO of eZanga.com, an online advertising that provides protection against digital .
"It's just getting started in this area," he told CNBC via telephone.