Shane Morris talking on TikTok

@shanemorrisdotsucks/TikTok

‘We used software to enhance his visibility’: Travis Scott’s former manager claims rapper faked streams to launch career (updated)

He emphasized that Scott was not alone in inflating streams.

 

Moises Mendez II

Internet Culture

Published Nov 8, 2021   Updated Nov 10, 2021, 10:29 am CST

Update 6:34 pm CT Nov. 9: In a text to the Daily Dot, Shane Morris refuted the accusations that he impersonated Ryan Ross on social media. He says that a woman had “catfished” Ross and was impersonating Morris on Tumblr for two years.

Original story: Travis Scott’s former manager, Shane Morris, posted TikToks about his experience working with the rapper following the deadly events at the Astroworld festival on Friday.

In one of the videos, he said that he was running the music publication Earmilk when he met Scott. Morris said that when he started working with Scott in the early days of the rapper’s career, he helped inflate the artist’s streaming numbers on SoundCloud to help him get noticed by record labels.

He said he helped Scott and his team do something similar to help with his engagement on Twitter. “We used software to enhance his visibility via the wrong means,” Morris said in the video, which has amassed over 458,000 views since it was posted on Sunday.

https://www.tiktok.com/@shanemorrisdotsucks/video/7027886536125369646

Scott has been at the center of a media firestorm this past weekend following the deaths of eight people during his performance on Friday. According to multiple outlets, including the New York Times, Scott encouraged his fans to “rage” causing a crowd surge with people falling over one another.

With Scott in the news for his festival, Morris spoke with the Daily Dot about the claims he made regarding his part in inflating Scott’s numbers on SoundCloud. He wanted to emphasize that this is a long-standing practice within the entertainment industry, especially amongst newer artists and DJs.

Back in the early 2010s, “SoundCloud didn’t really have a tight grip on their controls for limiting bot traffic,” Morris told the Daily Dot. So it was easy for him to set up a system of bots that could gain Scott anywhere between 10,000 to 25,000 streams per day.

Morris said that he would hire a Mechanical Turk—a remote worker found via an Amazon marketplace—to go and create fake burner Gmail accounts for him that were put onto a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, giving him the ability to “deploy virtual machines on DigitalOcean and run little quick instances of Ubuntu in the cloud.” This means that Morris was able to put the songs he wanted to inflate the streams of on a playlist and generate tens of thousands of streams, making it look like it they were coming from real accounts.

At the same time Morris was allegedly bumping up Scott’s streaming numbers, Scott was beginning to get featured in popular music blogs like HipHopDX and Two Dope Boys. “It wasn’t like anybody would bat an eye because Travis is on Two Dope Boys so it makes sense that his song has a quarter million plays now,” Morris told the Daily Dot. “But the reality was of those quarter-million plays 30 to 40,000 were real and another 200,000 were faked.”

The same was done to get his Twitter engagement bumped up. Morris said that he got bots to mass follow Scott on Twitter and was able to preprogram them to repost and like so that he had actual engagement. In the video talking about the “tea,” Morris said there was a joke that his “early followers could make an omelet because they were all eggs.”

Morris himself has been a subject of controversy over the years. He has been accused of impersonating former Panic! at the Disco member Ryan Ross online as well as lying about finding a heroin brick on Twitter.

The comments section of Morris’s video was inundated with a flurry of accusations that he is to blame for the deaths of the concertgoers because, without his help, Scott wouldn’t have been famous. “So you created this mess initially???!!!” one person commented, “Had y’all not faked his numbers, he’d be nowhere and [8] people would be alive.”

This is something that Morris admitted to thinking about, “What would have happened if I hadn’t answered that email in 2009? Would people’s kids still be alive today?” He said he knows that his part in helping fabricate streams for Scott is “salacious” and people are interested in it but would want people to focus on helping the victims. He told the Dot, “my preference is that people highlight the stories of the families and the victims and tell their stories.”

The Daily Dot reached out to representatives for Travis Scott.


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*First Published: Nov 8, 2021, 7:22 pm CST