Looks Like Amazon Music Has Its Own ‘Fake Artists’

Amazon Music's 'Fake Artists': Crashing Waves
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Amazon Music's 'Fake Artists': Crashing Waves
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photo: liezelzpineda (CC0)

What’s the difference between relaxing piano music and a recording of crashing waves?  Depending on how you answer that question, Amazon Music is also peddling ‘fake artists’.

For decades, recordings of nature sounds have been packaged and sold at a handsome profit.  And it’s the same rotating list: crashing waves, birds chirping in a forest, rain outside your window.  That marketplace has been worth millions, especially in the heyday of CDs, with companies like Somerset Entertainment smartly expanding the market.

Arguably, it’s just as much part of the music industry as piano music designed to help you sleep.  It’s designed to play in the background, and make you not listen (at least actively).  But both types of music have producers, content owners, and other familiar players.

The ‘artist’ for Somerset was actually a team of people (including the founder) who went out on rugged adventures and recorded this stuff.  And if you’ve ever hiked in a jungle with someone recording the ambient noises, you know this isn’t an easy endeavor.  Indeed, those ‘artists’ are just like the producers putting together relaxing piano music for insomniacs and grad students.

Which brings us to Amazon Music.

Here’s what happens when you look for nature recordings on Amazon.

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A recurring ‘artist’ on Amazon Music is ‘Skate Creek Sounds,’ which produces everything from ‘Rain for Relaxing’ to ‘Campfire Sounds’.  It’s good stuff, and it’s been done before — lots and lots of times before.  Which means it’s the musical equivalent of a commodity, and the entire reason why Amazon created Skate Creek Sounds in the first place.

That right: Skate Creek Sounds is an Amazon-created brand, designed to control every aspect of the production and dissemination of ‘nature sound’ recordings.  And capture a lot more revenue in the process.

A quick Google search reveals that ‘Skate Creek’ is only available on Amazon.  Just like it’s difficult to find any of Spotify’s alleged ‘fake artists’ outside of Spotify.

But what about the real ‘nature sound’ artists out there?

If that question sounds ludicrous, then consider this: just last month, people were screaming bloody murder at Spotify for allegedly creating fake artists who played relaxing piano music.  And just like nature sounds, this piano (or other relaxing music) is difficult to differentiate.  But great if you need to tune out.

But wait: looks like this is part of a much bigger business model for Amazon.

And, a way for Amazon to recapture billions by becoming the generic brand for a range of products.  Quartz did a great review of this, and listed dozens of Amazon-owned brands that are faking people out.  There’s ‘Franklin & Freeman’ for men’s shoes, ‘NuPro’ for tech accessories, and ‘Single Cow Burger’ for frozen foods.  And every single one of these brands is based on mountains of purchasing data.

This definitely isn’t an experiment.  The list of Amazon’s covert brands is impressively long, and enough to cause ‘real brands’ to freak out.  Just like ‘real’ artists and labels in the music industry.

All of which raises the question of whether Spotify will push to control more of its own content.  If only to create a business model that actually works.

2 Responses

  1. Human

    These streaming service are getting ridiculous now with this fake sh*t independent musicians are feeling it the most, its bad enough that they hide our brands on these platforms but to steal our potential earning and pull our music for streaming abuse is plain co-operate capitalism