BTS Fans Make 'Investigate Spotify' Twitter Trend, Claim 'Butter' Streams Not Being Counted

Fans of South Korean pop group BTS have rallied in criticism of the music streaming service Spotify amid claims the platform is filtering out how often they listen to the group's new single Butter.

BTS is one of the most popular groups in the music genre known as K-pop, and the band's fanbase is large and extremely active on social media.

On YouTube alone, the music video for "Butter" has garnered more than 200 million views despite being uploaded just a few days ago on May 21.

Fans are trying to increase the song's popularity even further in a coordinated effort to stream the song on as many platforms as they can and play it on repeat, as evidenced by online streaming guidelines posted by a fan group that boasts over 80,000 followers on Twitter.

BTS fan group Borahae Funds, which keeps track of the group's daily Spotify streams, has claimed numbers have been falling over the past few days, giving rise to concerns over how the streaming service filters out streams it does not consider legitimate.

US Daily Filtered Spotify

We continue to fall just short of 🎯 for Day 3 for Butter 🧈- We are on pace with 🧨

🎶 Remix is still outside the Top 200, let's bring it back!

Global Spotify filter % ⬇️ from 47% to 43% for 🧈 on Day 2. Still above the rate for & other tracks.

— BHF Data Analytics⁷| Butter is Here🧈. Spread it. (@BorahaeFunds_DA) May 24, 2021

Unfiltered = streams show on Spotify Desktop

Filtered = legitimate streams that show on Spotify Global 200 Chart which will count for real Chart.

Streams being filtered bc Spotify removes streams they considered ‘spams’ bc people keep streaming incorrectly (Looping same song).

— ᴮᴱвuttєr🔔⁷ (@btsworldwider) May 11, 2020

Streaming services may have such systems in place to prevent AI bots from automatically streaming songs in order to artificially boost an artist's popularity—something Spotify explicitly prohibits.

BTS fans say the system is getting in the way of what they see as a legitimate way to support the artist they like.

Newsweek has contacted Spotify for comment.

Spotify's community board has received multiple posts since this past weekend, calling for more transparency over how the platform filters out certain streams.

One community board user stated: "It is unfair to artists and their listeners to discriminate streams on behalf of what an algorithm considers 'proper streaming.'"

Another wrote: "If a user is deemed verified and human to make a payment, why cannot they loop and still get their streams counted?"

In addition, complaints about the issue on Twitter have given rise to the hashtag #InvestigateSpotify.

One Twitter user posted what appears to be an email response from the Spotify support team, in which a Spotify representative confirms the platform does filter streams "to make sure that all streams are legitimate" but could not provide any details on how. Newsweek was unable to independently verify the legitimacy of this alleged email.

So this is Spotify's response to our concerns??? They say they have a system in place but in the same sentence they say they don't have resources to dive deep into analytics?? How tf they don't have enough resources to give some transparency to thr users?? #investigatespotify

— sara⁷ ◡̈🧈 (@TEARHOYAA) May 24, 2021

The website for the Borahae Funds fan group includes the aforementioned guide on "streaming efficiently," encouraging users to get free premium membership trials on all streaming platforms, stream on multiple devices at once, and set an alarm to interact with their streaming platforms every so often.

In section 9 of its user agreement, Spotify states that "artificially increasing play counts" by using an automated process "or any other means" is not permitted, introducing ambiguity over how this is defined.

South Korean K-pop group BTS on stage on December 31, 2019, in New York City. The group has a very active fanbase online. Noam Galai/Getty