Meet the first Assamese singer who faked tens of millions of views on Vevo
IN A NUTSHELL:
Vevo used to be an on demand advertising supported video streaming service, owned and financed by a few major labels, formally managed by Vevo LLC. Vevo consisted of the following:
the main website Vevo.com, which used to be an on-demand video streaming website
Vevo-On-YouTube, which used to represent the branded Vevo pages on YouTube; artists had an option to promote their videos on Vevo.com, Vevo-on-YouTube, or both.
Pranab Jyoti Hazarika a.k.a. Axl Hazarika (VILL/TOWN KAINADHARA PS BASISTHA, SUB DIVN GUWAHATI, OPP. KHANAPARA OVER BRIDGE, GUWAHATI 781022, ASSAM, INDIA) is suspected of fabricating tens of millions of video views on Vevo and YouTube during the period May 2014 – July 2015, including but not limited to forgery, criminal breach of trust and cheating. Every effort we made to reach an agreement with him and settle the matter was arrogantly ignored.
Vevo, however, never reported any suspicious activities or imposed any sanctions on Axl Hazarika during that period. Eventually, Vevo has left an enormous debt of hundreds of thousands of dollars unpaid to our company and its clients, while they have never come out with an official explanation on this matter and never offered any compensation.
On November 15, 2017, the case was reported to the IC3 via WWW.IC3.GOV in its entirety.
Shortly after, on December 15, 2017, Vevo's board of directors announced a "leadership transition at the world's leading all-premium music video and entertainment platform".
Erik Huggers, Vevo's President and CEO since 2015, had decided to step down to "pursue new opportunities".
Expectedly, on May 24, 2018, Vevo announced "changes to its owned and operated platforms" which resulted in Vevo shutting down its video-hosting service.
* Pranab Jyoti Hazarika a.k.a. Axl Hazarika: he is the one in the middle, with his brother and sister on his right and on his left, respectively (Photo: Facebook)
THE SEQUENCE OF EVENTS IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER:
On June 18, 2013 3:48 PM CET Axl Hazarika signed up for Blue2Digital's music & video distribution service having accepted the Digital Music Distribution Agreement
On June 27, 2013 Hazarika's channel "AxlHazarikaVevo" was approved by Vevo
Hazarika's first video "Hum Badal Gaye" launched in 2013 was twice removed by YouTube as found to be in Violation of TOU #4 Section H (i.e. use of an automated system for fabricating video views), once in August 2013 and then again in November 2013
On November 20, 2013 the Head of Finance at Vevo said that „YouTube looked into this video and confirmed that views were definitely gamed and would not true up for this"
Axl Hazarika claimed his promotional activities were based on regular Facebook services; I didn't know whether to believe him or not, because neither Vevo nor YouTube provided any concrete evidence against him
Due to troubles he caused, I refused to accept his next releases; eventually in May 2014 I told him he could get back on Vevo, but only provided that he focused his promo activities on Vevo.COM, where he would be directly controlled by Vevo
In October 2014, Hazarika asked if Vevo could approve a new label channel for his "Elektrokore", a record label allegedly headquartered in Dublin, Ireland
Vevo would approve artist channels only and although I was aware that the chances of getting a label channel approved were very small, on October 14th, 2014 I asked Vevo if they could make an exception for this one
9 days later I received an email from the Coordinator at Content Operations at Vevo stating that the label channel for "Elektrokore" would be approved; I was surprised indeed, but I thought that Vevo's decision was based upon some relevant references of Elektrokore's and the success of Axl Hazarika's channel; however, Elektrokore never existed either as a company or a business name:
"ElektrokoreMusicVevo" was officially approved on October 28th, 2014; the revenues on both Axl Hazarika's and Elektrokore's channel started increasing really rapidly
According to Vevo's official royalty reports for November 2014, there were tens of millions of views reported as legitimate on Axl Hazarika's and Elektrokore's channels on Vevo.com; Vevo did not report any suspicious activities
According to Vevo's official royalty reports for December 2014, there were other tens of millions of views reported as legitimate on Axl Hazarika's and Elektrokore's channels on Vevo.com; Vevo did not report any suspicious activities
According to the number of video views on Vevo.com in the first half of January 2015, the revenues generated on Axl Hazarika's and Elektrokore's Vevo channels would have increased even more for that month, but the view counter for both of these channels on Vevo.com got frozen overnight and the views did not increase anymore; Vevo, however, still did not report any suspicious activities
The reports for January 2015 were delayed; Ms. Lucilla Green, Royalties Manager at Merlin said that "Vevo are just short on resources at the moment hence for the delay in December and January reporting, but a new member of staff is starting this month so February should be back on track."
At that time, I had no idea that "short on resources" meant that the aforementioned Head of Finance had left Vevo in February 2015
On April 13, 2015 I found that the most of the video views generated on Axl Hazarika's and Elektrokore's channels in January 2015 were excluded from the January royalty report, although Vevo did not report any suspicious activities
On April 13, 2015 I contacted the Royalties Manager at Merlin and reported the issue with the January royalties
On April 20, 2015 VIDYPS 79 was paid the Vevo royalties for November 2014; the money was first sent through Merlin, as usual; Vevo did not report any suspicious activities
On May 6, 2015 the Royalties Manager at Merlin replied saying that "there was a technical error with the embedded software which counts streams" and that "as a result of this error, the reporting which was sent for October to December 2014 are wrong and the streams reported are too high"; finally, "Vevo are going to send revised October-December 2014 to reflect this correction"
On May 9, 2015 Vevo removed all the videos ever distributed by VIDYPS 79 from Vevo.com and YouTube.com, without any prior notice or explanation; I tried to reach out to them (email, phone), but they did not reply; at first I thought it was because the agreement between Vevo and Merlin ended on March 2, 2015 and there was no renewal signed yet, but then I realized Vevo removed my videos because I was asking too many questions
All our clients became familiar with the issue and so did John Guerrier De'Bey a.k.a. Sean Thurman, who I contacted on May 9, 2015 and who I knew he had good connections with one of Vevo's major owners, Universal Music Group; De'Bey agreed to help, seeking no reward in return
John De'Bey reached out to Charlie Lexton, Head of Business Affairs at Merlin asking him about the issue; incredibly quickly, without being asked for any formal document to prove his title, De'Bey was accepted by Charlie Lexton as a "VIDYPS representative"; it caught me by surprise and took me several months to put two and two together and realize that it was just a farce
Our records reveal that the most of Blue2Digital's clients were from the United States
John De'Bey was particularly interested to find out who they were; in other words, he was interested to find out how many clients would be dragged into filing a lawsuit against Vevo in the United States