The “fake streams” controversy is boiling over again. Will the effort to combat stream-juking be folded into the larger mission to renovate the streaming-market model, which also includes cracking down on “junk” tracks that unfairly cut into the pie? AI is bringing much additional chaos here (as it is everywhere else), “learning” countless hours of music and spitting out sound-alike cuts to siphon royalties—prompting UMG to demand that the streameries take action. Buckle up.

Meanwhile, with stream counts determining revenue splits as well as chart standings, tricks to artificially inflate those numbers have grown and diversified—from Kazakhstan to K-pop stans, tales of server farms and other skulduggery proliferate. The gaming of the system has been with us as long as there’s been a system, of course (memories of Joe Jocko throwing hundies at indie record clerks to scan titles over and over again will be dancing in the heads of some readers). Still, how might DSPs better police the process?

In any event, the growing consensus is that the Billboard charts are broken and less consequential than ever. They largely serve to stroke the egos of artists who want to be #1, but the research is a mess. The only charts that truly matter now, it’s widely felt, are those furnished by Spotify, Apple and Amazon. Everything else is bullshit, and the Bible has done an impressive job of making its charts appear irrelevant.

LIONEL DRIVES THE TRAIN: Word has it that industry veteran and PD whisperer Lionel Ridenour will run overall promo for Larry Jackson’s new, multifaceted gamma venture. No matter how forward-looking your model, the fact remains that artists care about radio as it’s part of building their brand. Usher, gamma’s flagship artist, is off to a good start at the Urban, R&B and Rhythm formats. Just bear in mind that gamma is not a label, as Jackson keeps reminding us.