Earlier this fall, after Post Malone scored a No. 1 hit with his song “Rockstar,” the Fader reported on a strange loophole, which was first pointed out by New Yorker writer Matthew Trammell, that might’ve helped Malone hit the top spot. Republic Records uploaded a version of “Rockstar” to YouTube that was just a 30-second clip of the song’s chorus, looped over various times to fill up a 3:30-minute video. It racked up over 40 million plays.
The deceitful video raised ire that Post Malone’s label attempted to game the system to help the rapper get to No. 1. According to Genius, Post Malone would’ve hit No. 1 anyway, but the practice of uploading chorus-only videos continued with Migos and Big Sean pulling the same stunt.
Today, Pitchfork got YouTube’s side of the story. Lyor Cohen, the global head of music at YouTube, flat-out said: “We’ve stopped that from happening.” (We reached to YouTube multiple times for comment on this issue, and did not hear back.) A representative of the platform also informed Pitchfork about an updated policy around these videos:
Loop videos that feature misleading and inaccurate metadata violate YouTube policies and we are actively working to have them removed. Further, any upload of a song intended to mislead a user (preview, truncated, looped) posted on YouTube to look like the original song will not contribute to any charts.
Now, interestingly enough, the chorus-only videos for Post Malone’s “Rockstar” and Migos’ “Motorsport” were removed from the platform, and eventually the official audio and music videos were uploaded in their place. However, the chorus-only video for Big Sean and Metro Boomin’ song “Pull Up N Wreck” was also pulled, and now has a disclaimer saying: “This video has been removed for violating YouTube’s policy on spam, deceptive practices, and scams.” No official audio or music video for “Pull Up N Wreck” were uploaded in its place.
No labels answered numerous emails I sent about this practice. A bit frustrating, but in the end, it appears that neither Billboard or fans will no longer have to deal with official imposter videos on YouTube.