Scandal! At exactly the time of year websites — like ours — start ranking the top YouTube videos of the year comes news that some record companies have been gaming the system. YouTube cut the views on music videos from Sony, Universal, and other major labels, finding that their rankings had been inflated through the use of fake users, created by apparently paid manipulation experts.
Universal — home to Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, and our dear, sweet, beloved Taylor Swift — seems to have been the most guilty. Google cut a whopping 1 billion views from the label's YouTube channel. The results are channels that seem remarkably thin or, in Sony's case, completely empty.
If this seems sort of squalid and pointless, well, you're right — it is. But in a time where early viral buildups grab the widespread attention that is so crucial for moving an artist or song past its initial audience, we imagine padding the numbers to ensure success would be a massive temptation.