Less than a week after uploads to Spotify from AI-powered music creation app Boomy were blocked over concerns about artificial streaming, Boomy says it’s back in business on the prominent music streaming platform.
“We are pleased to share that curated delivery to Spotify of new releases by Boomy artists has been re-enabled,” the company wrote on its Discord server on Saturday (May 6).
“Supporting our artists and creators who use the Boomy platform is our top priority, and we greatly appreciate your patience these past few days. We will continue to work with industry partners to address issues of fraud or artificial streaming.”
The previous Monday (May 1), Boomy sent out an alert noting that uploads to Spotify had been disabled, and some Boomy-created tracks on Spotify were no longer available for streaming.
While Spotify confirmed it had made some tracks unavailable, it emerged that it was likely Boomy’s own distribution partner – Downtown-owned DashGo – that had halted uploads to Spotify.
Only a small fraction of Boomy tracks appeared to have been “greyed out” so that they couldn’t be played. As of Monday (May 8), there were no greyed-out tracks on Boomy’s playlists on Spotify.
A Spotify spokesperson confirmed to MBW that the DSP had removed “certain catalog releases” because the streaming platform had detected artificial streaming of these tracks.
There was no suggestion that Boomy itself was involved in artificial streaming.
“Boomy is categorically against any type of manipulation or artificial streaming,” the company said in a statement following the suspension of uploads to Spotify, adding that it is working with industry players to address the issue.
Artificial streaming involves the use of bots (i.e., automated software) to access audio or video files on a streaming service. The bots then download that file to make it appear as if it is being “played,” when in fact no one is consuming that content.
This has become a concern in the media business, particularly in music streaming, because of the “pro-rata” system of payment that DSPs engage in. Artists are paid according to the share of total streams that their music gets on a platform. So if bots rack up artificial streams on a DSP, it reduces the amount paid to legitimate artists.
“Supporting our artists and creators who use the Boomy platform is our top priority… We will continue to work with industry partners to address issues of fraud or artificial streaming.”
A recent French study found that between 1% and 3% of all music streamed in France is fraudulent. If those numbers are similar worldwide, it suggests that artificial streaming amounts to theft worth between USD $175 million and $525 million annually. This is based on IFPI’s report that streaming was worth $17.5 billion in wholesale industry revenues worldwide in 2022.
However, it’s not known how much artificial streaming is detectable. Streaming fraud monitoring firm Beatdapp has suggested that the share of streams that are fraudulent is closer to 10% of all streams – in which case the fraud is worth closer to $1.75 billion annually.
And evidence is growing that artificial streaming has become a thoroughly criminal enterprise.
Earlier this year, Horus Music CEO Nick Dunn told MBW that when the indie distributor blocked music uploads coming from “criminal gangs” that were uploading tracks to DSPs to play them artificially, employees received death threats.
As far back as 2020, Spotify warned of potentially dire financial consequences if the company didn’t get a handle on artificial streaming.
“If in the future we fail to successfully detect, remove, and address fraudulent streams and associated user accounts, it may result in the manipulation of our data, including the key performance indicators, which underlie, among other things, our contractual obligations with rights holders and advertisers (which could expose us to the risk of litigation), as well as harm our relationships with rights holders and advertisers,” the company said in an SEC filing.
However, the arrival of generative AI that can create new tracks in second, such as the type that Boomy uses, threatens to make the problem worse by making it considerably easier for malicious actors to create “legitimate” sounding music that can be uploaded and fake-streamed.
That threat was put into sharp relief last month, when an unauthorized track featuring an AI-generated Drake and The Weeknd went viral on social media platforms, racking up more than 15 million views on TikTok.
In another of a growing number of examples, a fake Bad Bunny track clocked 1.5 million views on TikTok.
“[T]he AI pushback from the copyright industry, or labels and media companies, is really [concerned with] issues like ‘name and likeness’, what is an actual copyright, who owns the right to something where you upload something and claim it to be Drake [when] it’s really not, and so on. Those are legitimate concerns,” Ek said.
Ek confirmed that “obviously, those are things [Spotify is] working with our partners on in trying to establish a position where we both allow innovation, but at the same time, protect all of the creators that we have on our platform”.Music Business Worldwide