Breaking: Spotify Officially Responds to ‘Fake Artist’ Allegations

Spotify: 'No Fake Artists'
  • Save

Spotify: 'No Fake Artists'
  • Save
photo: devra (CC 2.0)

Last week, Spotify got blasted by allegations of manufacturing ‘fake artists’ to avoid paying the real ones.  Now, they’re responding to those accusations, and addressing broader issues of playlist gaming.

If Spotify is the new king of the music industry, are they ruling the minions fairly?  As the influence of streaming playlists becomes extreme, that’s becoming an increasingly contentious question.

But when it comes to allegations of gaming its own playlists, Spotify is now going on the counter-offensive.  In response to a damning piece by Vulture author Adam Sheffield, Spotify is now flat-out denying the manufacture of ‘fake artists’.

Accordingly, here’s an official statement the platform has now issued on the matter:

“We do not and have never created ‘fake’ artists and put them on Spotify playlists. Categorically untrue, full stop.  We pay royalties — sound and publishing — for all tracks on Spotify, and for everything we playlist.  We do not own rights, we’re not a label, and all our music is licensed from rightsholders and we pay them — we don’t pay ourselves.”

Sounds like case closed.  But here’s where this gets a little sticky. Spotify did admit that gaming does exist on its platform, as alleged.  But they brushed it off as inconsequential, while denying any direct gaming themselves.

“As we grow there will always be people who try to game the system. We have a team in place to constantly monitor the service to flag any activity that could be seen as fraudulent or misleading to our users.”

That leaves out the very controversial nature of covers, which can often substitute for the real thing.  And steal food from the mouths of ‘real artists’.  That is especially true for mega-artists like Taylor Swift who previously chose to withhold their music from Spotify.  Enter a flood of half-baked covers, many of which satisfy demand for the ‘real thing’ while exerting pressure on artists to assume lowered payments.

9 Responses

  1. Will Buckley

    Spotify following in the footsteps of Napster. It was never about music. It was about convenience, access and a business model that was destined to fail.

    If streaming’s the future of music than the Titantic was the future of ship building.

    • Anonymous

      Following that analogy, the future of music is essentially Waterworld, that Kevin Costner movie from the 90s. Selling albums is dry land. Internet is the rising water levels. Spotify is the Titanic. We’re pretty much fucked no matter what, but at least with the Titanic, we can delay the inevitable for a little while.

  2. Is there life on Mars

    DMN seems to have a contempt of covers.. seems odd to me as covers have been part of the pop business since as far back as I can remember.

    DMN use every chance they can to trash covers and soundalikes on Spotify..

    Not sure what’s bought this about.. seems a personal vendetta of some sorts..

    The impression I get is that DMN would only be happy if cover versions were out and out banned on Spotify..

    I just hope Spotify ignore DMN’s opinions in this matter as I think it’s all a
    personal dislike of covers by the writers at DMN.

    • DF

      exactly, some covers could be more creative than original versions.

    • danwriter

      “I just hope Spotify ignore DMN’s opinions in this matter …”

      I dont think you have to worry about that.

  3. Matt Aitchison

    If I had a song that was so popular someone covered it and put it on Spotify, I’d be chuffed. I’ll take the part-royalty thanks.

  4. bc

    As Spotify pays artists on streams based on overall piece of the pie they represent , surely if the pie is bigger then artists get paid less (unless their share of the pie increases)

    So creating 500 million streams of relaxation music to which there is probably no publishing or very little payout on the back end, surely lowers every other legitimate artists revenue?

  5. Phil

    “We have a team in place to constantly monitor the service to flag any activity that could be seen as fraudulent or misleading to our users.”

    How reassuring. You know, the same way Grooveshark used to have a team to take down unauthorized uploads. Whew. Glad that’s settled.

  6. Lest it be overlooked...

    Connecting the dots: “As Jeff explains [a digital marketing staffer from one of the major labels, that wishes to remain anonymous], any artist can ‘deliver their content’ to Spotify through a service like Tunecore or CD Baby, but that does not mean all artists have access to being visible to users. … For some artists, especially independent artists, this path of communication and access simply does not exist.”

    Not All Spotify Playlists Are Created Equal: An Unedited Look Behind The Green Curtain:

    “As eloquently explained by analyst Mark Mulligan…Spotify licenses music on a ‘service-centric basis’ basis.”

    Why Spotify’s fake artist problem is an Epidemic. Literally.:

    It would therefore appear that even if, and that is a big if, an independent artist, for example, were able to “‘deliver their content’ to Spotify through a [middle-man] service like Tunecore or CD Baby,” and thereafter, were able to have that content included in a popular playlist, the financial compensation for such would be less than desirable.

    In this regard, I would be remiss if I did not again make mention of the circumstances concerning Tunecore which as reported was previously purchased by Believe Digital in 2015 and currently is for sale. I do not know whether or not Believe Digital owns any of the catalog it distributes, a circumstance highlighted by Chris Castle in the Artist Rights Watch article referenced below, but it is certainly a question worth asking, I believe. Perhaps the DMN readership know the answer?

    Believe Digital Actively Seeks Sale, Major Players Show Interest [Exclusive]:

    Time to Audit? TuneCore is Getting Sold – Do Your Clients Believe?:

    That said, by comparison, it seems that the 55%/45% revenue split offered directly to some artists, especially independent artists, by YouTube (not to be confused with Vevo) is, well, as any view I offered in that respect would only be an opinion, I implore you to educate yourselves in that regard. I do note however in support of YouTube that to my knowledge YouTube neither demands an exclusive license for distribution nor does YouTube require that an artist sell their material, e.g., digital downloads, in order to monetize their content as some distributors require.

    As an aside, I cannot help but wonder what the revenue of an artist, especially an independent artist, would be if they were to refrain from selling their material, but instead, simply monetized the streaming of the same – no compact disc sales, no vinyl album sales, no digital download sales.