More Than 5,000 Independent Artists Demand Reinstatement of Their Music on Spotify

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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.

10 Responses

  1. But Your Honor

    We didn’t steal from these artists because they made those numbers by faking listeners…

    So it’s not really stealing …

    Spot-A-Lie trying to hide from govt

    And you want back on???

    Lick those boots clean simp

    They’ve Been Stealing From You!!!!!

    Welcome To Class Action Lawsuit!

    Sign up and in 4 years get your $80.23

    • Ruell Bankasingh

      we still need to earn, while we try to make changes take place for the betterment of all artist.

  2. Ray

    No other Distributor seemed to have a problem with this except the Spotify owned DistroKid, Hmmmmmm.

    • Ruell Bankasingh

      i heard that also, but we need a not corrupted agency and government to find out and regulate this industry. the corrupt profiting from it will not like the idea, but it’s needed.

  3. Ruell Bankasingh

    weird, it says error when i fill out the petition and submit, i tried multiple times. the fact is the artist is not responsible unless they are a party to the action, i don’t use any software and i only use freelance and companies that promise they follow the policy and it’s all organic results, that’s all we can do, that’s all we are obligated to do, we can’t force a third party company, nor are we able to tell what is happening. it’s up to streaming companies to warn us in advance, so we won’t spend and months later find out the it’s not good, also they should never have taken down songs or block artist, that’s too extreme, along with it’s a facts most of us, do the due diligence we can, the streaming companies should be using a verification process to ensure the marketing companies and freelance are doing things right. they all need to realize that most independent artist are not making a lot of money and need the income, we are already not getting a fair share, and with covid 19 how could they do this, knowing we are not responsible, and we deserve to be paid, we should never have our music in a position to not allow us to profit, and now they companies have come in as gate keepers and are blocking us from making a living. is obvious all the listeners are now funneled to streaming companies and taking out music off, kills our chances of profiting. it’s not right.

    • Xtcol

      Spotify wants us to spend on their ad studio despite the fact it is ineffective. Fake companies have conned them for millions while they were sleeping and they were generating royalties for 30 seconds plays. And with real artists they suppress all they can. Their ad studio is failure and instead of making it effective- they want to blackmail artists into spending with them without delivering results. From MJ to JLo to Bruno Mars all labels invest in pay for play otherwise the whole world would be listening to one song. Spotify should pay artists instead of paying hundreds and millions to phonies like Joe Rogen.

  4. Xtcol

    So basically when the time comes to make payouts such things happen. Why don’t Spotify make it transparent how much they sent to Distrokid. They did the sane during March-June 2020 during pandemic where they transferred their loss to artists by slashing their payouts.

    Spotify should specify how much it sends to each artist.

  5. BAC

    Spotify allows listeners to repeat play tracks all day long, but then accuses artists of “fake streams” because of some automated data analysis program.

    Somebody should release a single via DistroKid, and then have somebody else repeat play it all day long using the Spotify app. See what happens.

    I bet that Spotify will accuse the artist of “fake streams” and cancel them out, even though their app allows this.

    Philip Kaplan is right about how this is independent distributor agnostic. The majors still get away with it (wink wink). I know a US-based artist who got accused at Routenote and had a devil of a time trying to get their track restored. They were accused without any evidence. They moved their track to a US-based distributor, not DistroKid, and haven’t had any problems since switching.

    • whaturmomshouldsay

      that is great they do not have a problem with a new distro…the problems are they own all the distros…take a look all the ones that came out have been bought up by whom…mmm…you wonder who owns them all…haha….the majors? sub corps….paper companies…shellls??? What treterous investigative reporting that would be…….try to find your own way outside of them and dont give them your music…

  6. Chico

    Did record companies ever crack down on “fake” album sales back in the day? My issue with streaming is that the revenue is based on listens. When people bought albums (vinyl, tape, CD, etc.) it wasn’t based on whether they listened to it at all.

    Artists should get some revenue whenever anybody adds an album or song to their streaming collection or playlist, maybe not as much revenue as a streamed track though.