A lot of clever websites help you as a musician increase your reach to fans. But there’s also a site that will promise to fraud your way to the top or at least make you very poor.

Meet Chartfixer.com.  A website currently being trialled in Australia “before being unleashed upon the world“. It takes something that has been going on for decades into the 2.0 era. It’s principle is simple. If you are musician, you can ask the website to buy up a large volume of your download singles. As a result, the single rockets into the charts.  The website promises that will give you instant fame and people will start buying the track all by themselves, because as a chart hit it gets automatic airplay. This of course comes at a price. A lot of dollars. And your soul.

How does the site generate those downloads? Simple: they lure in people to subscribe to the site and get paid to download the requested tracks. Chartfixer basically uses part of the money paid by the artist to finance the downloaders. Musicadium has done the math to see how $30000 wil get you 5000 downloads and a chart topper. And it seems the only one getting really rich of the scam is the website itself.

The practice, as shocking as it may seem, is not at all new. In pre-download times it wasn’t so hard to send a few people to various stores and simply buy all the physical singles. This would require a lot of money (of which part of the revenue would obviously flow back to the frauders). Especially in smaller markets, like the Netherlands, it was possible to do this with little effort since it takes less sold items then say in the US. The companies that manage the charts are aware of this, so for instance when one or a few shops in a city or region sell out all the singles while over the rest of the country virtually none are sold, that’s marked as suspicious. Recently in 2002 Dutch singer Gerard Joling’s single was taken out of the charts for this very reason. It had sold a suspicious lot of singles in a very short time. The record company defended itself that they had a lot of internet sales of the physical single and bought the singles from official retail channels to ship them to internet buyers. A rather weak defence.

In 2007 NLpop.blog.nl explained how to score a hit in an ironically meant series of articles. To their shock however they received a load of mails from anonymous sources from within the record industry. They stated that what they had written wasn’t fiction, but something the big labels actually do, but in much more covert ways that go unnoticed.

Truth be told, if you want to be a famous musician, it’s all about getting noticed. You can either give away free music, put up posters every where, buy advertising or somehow persuade DJ’s to play your song a lot. I can imagine to a record company, investing money in buying their own single is as much a marketing tool as buying advertising. And getting airplay is a really good way to get noticed. But in the end the music itself has to be good. Shitty music with great marketing still doesn’t sell.

And the integrity of a musician goes a long way  too. IF you were a musician who bought your way to the top with money, could you ever respect what you do and the music you make? And do you think your fans would? Or are they just consumer drones to you? Chartfixer stresses its legal, but it certainly isn’t moral.

Like this? Buy me a drink!