Six days back, Digital Music News was first to report that Spotify had removed hundreds of thousands of indie tracks over alleged “artificial stream” violations. Now, more than 5,000 indie artists have signed a petition (entitled “Restore Our Music”) demanding that the platform reinstate the songs.
A musician reached out to DMN last week with word of the unprecedented takedowns, and this message spurred a flurry of reports on the ugly situation. Firsthand emails, an analysis from music industry attorney Wallace Collins, a detailed breakdown from DistroKid, and social media posts penned by frustrated creators, suggest that the all-encompassing song-removal effort has impacted some 750,000 tracks.
Spotify appeared to explain the move in the “promotion” FAQ section of its Spotify for Artists resource, stating in an answer to one inquiry: “Third party promotional services that advertise streams in return for payment violate our terms & conditions, and using them could result in your music being removed from Spotify.”
And DistroKid – in which Spotify has a “passive minority investment” – debuted a counter-notification form that its artists can utilize to appeal their tracks’ removal. Plus, the music distributor’s CEO, Philip Kaplan, emphasized that “these takedowns were distributor-agnostic and affected music from all distributors (not just DistroKid)” – which makes sense, given that DistroKid is easily one of today’s largest music distributors.
Nevertheless, more than a few artists are relaying that while they haven’t used a fake-stream service, Spotify still removed their tracks. Many of these individuals also signed the aforementioned petition, demanding that Spotify “restore our music.” About one week ago, Buffalo-based artist Dylan Toole released the petition, which had garnered north of 5,100 signatures at the time of this piece’s publishing.
“I have never used ‘fake streams’ with my singles and every one of them has been removed,” commented a petition signer, “even ones which hardly get any plays, like 5 plays a month if I’m lucky. My music is all gone!”
“They took my music down because they accused me of fake streams. Never used any fake streams in my life,” commented another musician when explaining his reason for signing the petition.
Also worth noting is that while some indie music remains offline on Spotify for alleged artificial streams, a portion of the impacted tracks are becoming available to fans once again.
Dylan Toole’s Cold Hearted Love Story was listed solely under the “artist’s pick” section last week, but has since been relisted under “albums.” Moreover, fans can currently stream any of the album’s nine tracks; just four of these songs were live six days ago.
On the other side of the coin, Manchester-based Heavy Salad provided a less-than-encouraging update on their situation this morning, via a tweet. “We are now in Week2 of our counterclaim against @SpotifyCares @Spotify for alleged fraud. We have had no correspondence from either @Spotify or @DistroKid.”
Heavy Salad’s Spotify page still shows zero albums, and while the group previously had nine singles on the platform, the total has since dipped to seven.
More as this develops.