Virtual Private Networks — VPNs — are known for their ability to protect your Internet activity from prying eyes, identity theft hackers, and companies engaging in data mining. VPNs are used in almost every country, becoming a staple cybersecurity measure for modern businesses and privacy enthusiasts.
As a celebrity with a huge net worth and desire for personal privacy, it’s little surprise that Justin Bieber would be a huge fan, right? Well, that’s not exactly why he fell in love with VPNs, at least as far as recent social media posts would suggest.
Why did Justin Bieber fall in love with VPNs? The tea is pretty Yummy — and it’s not quite the reason you’d think.
Why Justin Bieber Is VPN’s Biggest Fan
Beliebers loved Justin’s latest single, “Yummy”, and flocked to watch the videos the former YouTube star posted. The light R&B tune is fun and undeniably catchy. But what does the song have to do with VPNs?
Essentially, Bieber urged international fans to sign up for a VPN service to manipulate the US Billboard charts and get Yummy to the top spot — and keep it there.
In a series of since-deleted tweets and YouTube posts, Bieber posted step-by-step instructions how to install a VPN and access US-based streaming services.
Bieber’s end goal? To boost the number of times Yummy was played and downloaded in the US. and reach #1 on the Billboard Top 100.
Wait, How Does A VPN Work?
In simplest terms, a VPN connects users with their desired website through a private, remote server. In the process, it encrypts your data and hides your device’s IP address. The website then reads that your connection is coming from that server instead of your PC, phone, or whatever device you’re using.
So if the VPN server is located in the US, the Internet believes you are, too. Regardless of whether you’re actually in the UK, Australia, or Antarctica.
How Does That Help Justin Bieber?
Music services like Spotify and Apple Music collect the number of times a song is played/downloaded and report that data to Billboard, which then announces the most popular song and album of each week.
See where this is going now? Bieber urged international fans to spoof their Internet location when streaming his single in order to inflate the number of times ‘US listeners’ played Yummy.
It actually got a little creepy, with videos (since taken down) of the pop star pleading with fans to stream his song. “Even while you sleep, just turn down the volume and play it on repeat,” Bieber said. Yeah.
The Real Popularity Of The Biebs’ New Album
So how did that math work out for Justin Bieber?
Well — Yummy did make it to #1, despite being panned critically and its lackluster response from fans. Part of its success was due to the number of views Bieber’s seven music videos for the single got — showing that the singer still has the ability to make YouTube work for him.
Unfortunately, Bieber has been called out by Twitter users and other artists for his blatant grab for popularity and is rapidly on his way to another type of fame — as a TikTok meme. Still, if spoofs of his cringe plead to stream his song leads to more plays, then Bieber still ultimately comes out as the winner.
Unfortunately, Bieber couldn’t match the more organic rise in popularity of Roddy Rich’s The Box, which overtook Yummy as the top single on the Billboard charts and held the spot for 11 weeks.
It may go to show that it’s the value of the music, and not self-promotion, that really matters about becoming #1.
Justin Bieber Isn’t The Only Artist To Manipulate Billboard Charts
In 2018, Chinese-Canadian singer Kris Wu successfully urged fans in China to download his album early with a VPN and knocked Ariana Grande’s thank u next release from its #1 spot. Grande’s manager Scooter Braun slammed Wu for his manipulation of the charts, although Twitter was fast to note that Braun also manages Justin Bieber, who copied Wu’s inflation of the charts.
Before that, in 2017, a Tumblr group called Harry Styles Promo Team helped increase the popularity of the former One Direction crooner’s solo single and album, “Sign Of the Times.” The group used several of the same techniques that Bieber advocated, including multiple requests to radio stations, constantly streaming the eponymous single, and using US- and UK-based VPNs to increase the number of streams in each country.
It’s Clear That VPNs Aren’t Just A Cybersecurity Tool
Justin Bieber and other celebrities have made it clear that VPNs can be used for much more than Internet security.
As digital continues to evolve as the main platform for music, it will be interesting to see how VPNs and other cybersecurity tools affect the industry.