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One Band’s Quest to Boost Its Openly Fake Fan Base

Rob Walker
Tech Columnist
June 4, 2014

The new musical act Bu++er has about 42,000 Twitter followers; its recent debut single has roughly 48,000 YouTube views.*

If you find those stats underwhelming, how would you feel if I told you that the vast majority of those, um, fans, aren’t even real?

Even weirder: The group not only brags about its completely fake following, but it also wants its real fans (you, perhaps?) to help it attract more non-real fans.

Confused? Join the (fake fan) club.

But the real point of Bu++er and its lone (wildly profane) song, “Love Luv Me,” has a lot less to do with making music than with making a comment about the artificiality of social-media promotion.

“Bu++er wants to shake up the fan landscape of large-scale social media,” according to a statement from its label, Share Castle. The big music labels all engage in such fakery, the statement alleges, and even “the US State Department has secretly purchased millions of fake social media fans.”

Thus the group is “delivering transcendence from the lies of the music industry” by openly admitting that it bought its fans — and wants to buy more.

So how does one raise money to buy fake fans? By selling, of all things, a “custom JPG.” It costs $5.

“Pay us $5, we buy $5 worth of fans,” a Share Castle rep told me when I inquired about the details. “You receive a beautiful, handmade JPG designed by one of the members of BU++ER.”

The rep further explained that the Twitter followers were purchased via Fiverr.com (5,000 Twitter followers for $5), and the YouTube views through “services such as YTView,” as well as Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.

Share Castle bills itself as “a label for critical pop in the network age,” and at the moment Bu++er is its sole artist. The video itself also reflects a meta-critical attitude toward technology and entertainment, featuring a variety of 3D-printed guns, meme references, and (apparently) dancers rounded up via Mechanical Turk.

Please note: The video is also rife with loud profanity, so if you care to experience it at work, please headphone-up first.

It’s possible that at this point you’re wondering if the actual music is any good. I’ll just say the song is not my kind of thing. And unless you’re a  Twitter bot, it may not be your thing either.

But that’s hardly the point, is it? 

* UPDATE: Some hours after this piece was posted, Share Castle tells me, YouTube noticed Bu++er’s fake-fan campaign, and was evidently not amused.

A Terms of Service violation notice arrived at 2 AM, according to Share Castle, “which notified us that they’d removed the video and, to our surprise, re-uploaded it at a new address (w/o any views/likes/comments [even tho the likes and comments were real.])” 

Pretty sad! Money down the drain! All that fakery … for naught!

But, says Share Castle: “The promo … which we linked twice in the frame of the music video w/ the text ‘CLICK HERE FOR FAKE VIEWS,’ remains intact and continues to climb toward its 20,000 purchased fake views.”

Thank goodness. If we can’t count on the lasting integrity of fake YouTube views, then what can we count on?

Write to me at rwalkeryn@yahoo.com or find me on Twitter, @notrobwalkerRSS lover? Paste this URL into your reader of choice: https://www.yahoo.com/tech/author/rob-walker/rss.