So… who’s actually behind Spotify’s fake artists?

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Not going to lie – we didn’t expect quite this level of reaction.

MBW’s story from yesterday revealing 50 names of fake artists on Spotify has gone a bit crazy.

We’ve had emails through all day from people uncovering yet more suspicious acts on the platform – performers who have a very impressive playlist presence on Spotify, but barely any other online credentials.

At this stage, from what we’ve seen, we estimate the number of fictional artists on the service will easily run over a hundred.


A quick recap: MBW has been told that these artists are, in fact, producers who are covertly recording and releasing material commissioned – possibly via a third party – by Spotify.

That’s something the green machine has outright denied.

“We do not and have never created ‘fake’ artists and put them on Spotify playlists. Categorically untrue, full stop,” said a spokesperson.

Subsequent to MBW’s story arriving yesterday, Spotify sources have said that “describing these [acts] as ‘fake artists’ is like calling JK Rowling a fake author when she published novels in a different genre under the name Robert Galbraith.”

Except, it’s not. Not really.

Because we already know – at least, we do now – that JK Rowling wrote those books.

It raises an interesting point: would the industry perhaps feel differently about music by Spotify’s fake artists if we could discover the secret producers behind them?

So we did.


Before the science, an interesting bit of background: while MBW was researching our list of 50 fake artists last night – foraging for signs of online life outside the Spotify platform – we came across a few user reviews.

These ranged from people enjoying Spotify audio rips which had been placed on YouTube to those desperately seeking the sheet music of these songs.

It was positive. Like, ‘This is a lot better than your typical production music / amateur music’ positive.

There was also a lot of ‘this is fantastic, where can I buy it on iTunes?’-type response.

It’s just worth bearing that in mind.


Earlier today, MBW readers started searching the web for ISRC codes related to tracks by our named ‘fake artists’, as well as rifling through ASCAP and BMI’s databases.

We joined them.

Not a lot was discovered, until… a mini-breakthrough.

Tracks by two of the acts in our list of 50 – Deep Watch and Piotr Miteska – showed up in the searchable online database of US licensing organization BMI.

‘Endless Fragments Of Time’ (Deep Watch) is credited as having been written by Andreas Romdhane and Josef Svedlund.

‘Squares Of Life’ (Piotr Miteska) is also credited as Romdhane/Svedlund, in addition to Robin Bennich.

Another fake artist, not originally listed in our 50 names, is Evolution Of Stars.

They boast 17m streams across two tracks on Spotify – ‘Pretending’ and ‘Waiting For Nothing’.

Like the other two tracks mentioned above, there is a ‘Waiting For Nothing’ on BMI’s site, credited as being written by – you’ve guessed it – Romdhane/Svedlund.


There’s more.

We discovered that another track in our list of 50, ‘Norrsken’ by Karin Borg (who has over 24m streams on Spotify) is also credited by BMI as Romdhane/Svedlund.

And another: ‘From Night To Morning’ by Antologie.

And another: ‘Broken Promises’ by Bon Vie.

And another: ‘Sankrit Touch’ by Benny Bernstein.

And another: ‘From Shores To Mountains’ by The 2 Inversions.

You get the picture.

Across just the names mentioned here, this music has racked up more than 75m Spotify streams to date – being selected for playlists including Peaceful Piano, Yoga Music, Sleep and Yoga & Meditation.

The rights of these fake artists are labelled on Spotify as being owned by variations on their names:

  • Deep Watch’s rights are credited as ‘DW Prod’.
  • Piotr Miteska’s are credited as ‘PTRMTSK’.
  • The 2 Inversions rights are credited as ‘The Inversions’
  • Karin Borg’s master rights are credited as ‘KB Inspelningar’ while her publishing (‘her’ publishing) interestingly enough, is credited as ‘Q&L Publishing/Universal Music Publishing’.

So we did the do, and we Googled.

If you didn’t know, Andreas Romdhane and Josef Svedlund (pictured) are better known as Quiz & Larossi (thus ‘Q&L Publishing’, which appears to be administered by UMPG).

They are talented types: a production duo who have worked together since 1999, when they collaborated on songs with Lutricia McNeal.

Since then, they’ve been credited on tracks for everyone from Kelly Clarkson to Atomic Kitten, Il Divo, Westlife, Geri Halliwell, Diana Ross, The Pussycat Dolls and JLS.

They have often worked with Syco artists.

They are based at their studio in… wait for it…  Stockholm, Sweden.

Gentlemen, congratulations on your success. We would like to interview you!


Spotify’s fake artists: MBW’s big list (total streams)

  1. Amity Cadet (9.2m)
  2. Gabriel Parker (24.9m)
  3. Charlie Key (23.6m)
  4. Ana Olgica (23.5m)
  5. Lo Mimieux (22.3m)
  6. Mbo Mentho (10.3m)
  7. Benny Treskow (14.9m)
  8. Greg Barley (21.4m)
  9. Relajar (13.4m)
  10. Jeff Bright Jr (15.8m)
  11. Mayhem (10.2m)
  12. Novo Talos (17.2m)
  13. Advaitas (7.4m)
  14. Clay Edwards (4.7m)
  15. Benny Bernstein (9.6m)
  16. Enno Aare (17.1m)
  17. Amy Yeager (5.7m)
  18. Otto Wahl (27m)
  19. Piotr Miteska (26.7m)
  20. Leon Noel (2.7m)
  21. Giuseppe Galvetti (2.7m)
  22. Caro Utobarto (1.2m)
  23. Risto Carto (1.7m)
  24. Karin Borg (24.2m)
  25. Hultana (3.2m)
  26. Hiroshi Yamazaki (8.6m)
  27. Milos Stavos (7.1m)
  28. Allysa Nelson (4.3m)
  29. They Dream By Day (16.2m)
  30. Evelyn Stein (14.3m)
  31. Józef Gatysik (10.4m)
  32. Jonathan Coffey (480k)
  33. Pernilla Mayer (4.2m)
  34. Hermann (11.8m)
  35. Aaron Lansing (11.3m)
  36. Dylan Francis (6.5m)
  37. Christopher Colman (509k)
  38. Sam Eber (1.6m)
  39. Fellows (3.3m)
  40. Martin Fox (2.5m)
  41. Deep Watch (4.8m)
  42. The 2 Inversions (10.3m)
  43. Bon Vie (4.7m)
  44. Wilma Harrods (5.3m)
  45. Antologie (5.8m)
  46. Heinz Goldblatt (513k)
  47. Charles Bolt (32.4m)
  48. Samuel Lindon (11.8m)
  49. Tony Lieberman (2.5m)
  50. Mia Strass (8.9m)

Music Business Worldwide

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  • Pop

    That’s right. In PRS code under their publishing is something around 70 works registered…

  • Dan

    If the music industry hadn’t lost a million jobs in the last ten years I wouldn’t have had all the spare time to do this research to embarrass Spotify.

  • De La

    So they aren’t really fake, they’re just the sort of artists who make tracks for film and televison etc.

    If users like it I’m not seeing the issue.

    • disqus_lQdbINTxbJ

      exactly. this is not even an issue, and very far from being wrong….calm down

    • Dan

      No, they’re fake. You aren’t going to follow the career of Deep Watch or eagerly anticipate their new records. You aren’t going to want to learn about the story of how Deep Watch met, or the time and place their music was created. The album art is insultingly bad. If it’s muzak that’s fine, but this is blowing up specifically because people DON’T want muzak, they want art, and they don’t like the feeling they’ve been cheated. Spotify is presenting this music to the listener as if it is a new artist.

      • dani

        The other problem here is that Spotify does not calculate royalties based upon a fixed “per play” rate and the pay out rates per stream is basically a mathematical formula so these tracks are effecting the stream payout rate for EVERY single track on Spotify. That means that if one of your songs has been streamed 0.5% of the total number of streams in a month, you will get 0.5% of the of the royalties paid out to right holders. Now can you see the issue?

        • Lance

          No. I do not see the issue.

          I understand that Spotify calculates royalties based on a mathematical formula that takes into account total streams, total revenues and total number of artist streamed within a given period.

          These tracks are not effecting the stream payout rate for every single track on Spotify. They are merely included in that calculation, as they should be.

          How is a streaming service paying ANY artists – regardless of who they are or how listening customers arrived at streamimg those tracks – for the songs streams an “issue”?

          • MegaMan

            These streams aren’t affecting the payouts of other artists? Yes they ARE. Because spotify doesn’t pay a fixed rate, each stream affects every other stream. If one person/artist/group is garnering more streams that others, then they are entitled to a larger portion of the pool that holds the revenue. The smaller the artist and/or the less plays they get, the lower down the ladder they are. The lower they are on the ladder, the less money they get, and it’s because by the time they get to the pool, there’s very little left in there for them. Their pay is based on their own plays as much as it is on other artists’ plays. Spotify pays 70% of their AD revenue to artists, and each artists pay is based on a percentage based on their plays, and the size of the pool when it gets to them. Let’s say spotify grosses 1B plays from freemium users, and 10% of those plays are indie artists that individually grossed 10k or less plays. Each of those artists get paid based on what portion of that 100m plays they make up, whereas bigger artists get paid higher percentages and individually make up larger portions of the 1B plays

        • vintermann

          That is an issue, but it’s the artist’s interest organizations and the record companies which demand that payout model. WiMP, before it got bought out to become Tidal, wanted a model where the money follows the user (so your subscription fee actually goes to the artists you listen to). They didn’t get it.

      • What if their plays are just computer banks in Indonesia set to stream their music on repeat all day?

        • Dan

          They’re not, Spotify specifically includes them on featured playlists that are guaranteed to be listened to many times.

          • I dunno, Dan, I know some playlist curators who’ve got their lists streaming on repeat…to improve their own ranking. I’m guessing the playlists with these songs could be doing the same thing…

          • Dan

            I suppose it’s possible that some of the plays are faked but they can’t fake their way onto the playlist, Spotify has to do that because the playlists in question are curated by them.

            I’m thinking some executive noticed that the average person listening to the Chill/Ambient playlists was listening for 7 hours (since they put them on to sleep) and thought that it just wasn’t fair to pay out perfectly good money for music that an unconscious person listened to. Since the average listener probably fell asleep or stopped paying attention after a half hour or so, they can slip a few ringers with lower royalty rates in around the hour mark and no one would be the wiser. It’s a genius idea from a business perspective, it’s just not ethical.

          • vintermann

            Yup. Search on fiverr for spotify. There are a lot of people trying to game Spotify’s algorithm, or simply clickfraud themselves to money.

      • vintermann

        It’s blowing up because there’s a horde of artists out there who feel that they don’t get the recognition they deserve, and losing out to something this intangible is understandably upsetting to them.

    • Sunny Htc

      I agree

    • Jon Riffioso Hockley

      The problem here is that recording artists independent or otherwise are losing out of revenue and exposure because Spotify is compiling and promoting playlists of this cheaper music. It’s unfair. Every artist should have access to put their music on these playlists. It shouldn’t be limited to a couple of composers getting all the plays. I’m sure it’s in breach of Anti-Competitive laws.

      • Lance

        No.

        There is no “problem that recording artists independent or otherwise are losing out of revenue and exposure because Spotify is compiling and promoting playlists of this cheaper music.”

        Artists get paid for having their music streamed on Spotify. More streams = more revenue. Fewer streams = less revenue. Simple.

        Be clear however, and unseratand that the number of streams and potential listeners is not static. Any artist can generate more streams, IF THE LISTENERS DEMAND THEM.

        So, no one is “losing out,” if they don’t get as many streams as any other artist. If anything, you might be able to say they just “aren’t winning, enough” comparatively.”It’s unfair. Every artist should have access to put their music on these playlists. It shouldn’t be limited to a couple of composers getting all the plays. I’m sure it’s in breach of Anti-Competitive laws.

        • Jon Riffioso Hockley

          Ambient music doesn’t matter but pop music does matter???. Where will Spotify draw the line?

          • Lance

            I have absolutely NO idea how you came up with that response to such an off-base interpretation that I was making any type of qualitative assessment between musical genres.

            That is a ridiculous contortion away from what was ACTUALLY said.

            To repeat and re-emphasize the point:

            Every artist DOES have access to put their music on these playlists.

            THAT IS A FACT.

            Recognizing that fact, it is ALSO fact that Spotify would only damage itself commercially, if they were to replace highly in-demand artists – in ANY genre – with pseudonymous ambient artists.

            I hope the point is clear to you, now.

            The only reason I referred to pop playlists is to illustrate that when the customers DO evidence some preference for a particular artist/artists, as they do with pop (i.e. these playlists typically/are expected to include “Top 100”), Spotify really has no choice, commercially, but to include them. With ambient and mood playlists, listeners are generally NOT looking for any particular artist, but rather, simply a particular mood. As long as the playlist does not veer from delivering that mood, the listeners for these genres generally don’t care about particular artists.

            If you can’t/don’t/won’t understand the difference between how pop playlists are curated and the curation for the type of more passive listening that goes on with genres like “chill” or “ambient” or “sleep,” then honestly, you shouldn’t even be in a forum discussing music and playlists, at all.

          • Jon Riffioso Hockley

            but is the access to these playlists equal?

          • Lance

            Not sure if that question is posited for me to respond to, but…

            The question is lacking far too many specifics to be intelligible and generate a meaningful answer that would move a discussion forward.

            What is meant by “access” to these playlists? To have your songs considered for inclusion on “a” playlist? In that sense, I think so. Several playlists? Perhaps. ALL playlists? I’m certain no. To be somehow at the top of the list of songs being considered for inclusion on “a” playlist? That is probably a rare position to be in (as it likely should be). To be somehow at the top of the list of songs being considered for inclusion on several Playlists? Again, likely not. To be somehow at the top of the list of songs being considered for inclusion on ALL playlists? Likely impossible. Actually being included in “a” playlist? That logically can’t be the true test for mere “access” to be included. Several playlists? ALL playlists? etc., etc….

            Similarly, what is meant by “equal” access?

            To have your songs considered for exactly the same reasons as all others for inclusion on “a” playlist? Several playlists? Perhaps. ALL playlists? etc., etc….

          • Jon Riffioso Hockley

            I’ll phrase it another way and that didn’t get me the desired information. Is inclusion on Spotify controlled playlists treated on just musical aspects? or are their political and/or financial incentives behind the construction of their playlists?

      • Mainframe

        How are artists and labels losing? They’re not entitled to playlist spots. And how is this any different from Netflix producing shows and adding them to the “New Releases’ list on their homepage?

        • Jon Riffioso Hockley

          Because Netflix shows are fully credited and these songs are falsely credited.

          • Mainframe

            How are the songs falsely credited if the producers agreed to the crediting?

          • Jon Riffioso Hockley

            Because the artists don’t exist.

          • Mainframe

            What do you mean they don’t exist? MBW listed their alleged names and tracks. They most definitely exist.

          • Jon Riffioso Hockley

            Are you trolling? This whole article is about why they are fake.

          • Mainframe

            Artists use aliases all the time for different reasons. In this case, Spotify commissioned them to produce specific tracks for specific playlists. Who cares if they don’t have social media profiles or perform live? The music is real. Calling them “fake” is silly.

          • Jon Riffioso Hockley

            And this is the problem. If Spotify did commission them then what deal was made? why should there agreement be different from any other artist? Every stream on the network takes value away from the other streams. Look into the economy of how Spotify pay their artists. They should be given a lower royalty as it’s backing music just like how PRS pay less royalties for nighttime tv. So the real point i’m making here is about equality on the network.

          • Mainframe

            It’s not our business what the deal is. We are not entitled to know. And besides, if Spotify and the artists are both happy with the deal, then what’s the problem? People are allowed to do business with each other as they see fit so long as they’re not breaking the law. That’s what happens in a free society.

          • Jon Riffioso Hockley

            This is the thing. It is my business. I have investments on the platform as do many others. It’s my business to figure out how others do their business. I, and i hope other as well, will push and pull on this platform to get the best deal for all and not just a few. This is maybe the main point on where we differ.

          • Mainframe

            I understand why investors might care. Shouldn’t the deals be discussed in private, though? I don’t understand why investors would want to throw their investment under the bus in public.

          • Jon Riffioso Hockley

            I”m invested in artists. Yes, i’m not entitled to know the details of the deal but it does affect me and pretty much every single artist on the platform. The sheer number of artists who are loosing out is why a public campaign would be more effective.

          • Jon Riffioso Hockley

            The ethics come into play because it’s streaming income is a vital part of an artists income. Consumers are protected by consumer rights, employees protected by employment rights, artists are protected by…. hmm.

          • Mainframe

            Don’t get me wrong, I work directly with artists and I understand the struggle. MBW’s article seems like a smear campaign against Spotify, though. It appeals to artists who think that Spotify owes them something more than what they’re legally obligated to owe, which they don’t. And, aside from using aliases, which has been common practices for decades, I still don’t see how the situation is different from what Netflix does. If the service providers, content creators, and subscribers are happy with the content, then what’s the problem?

          • Jon Riffioso Hockley

            A majority of the royalty payouts on the platform come from subcribers. All the cash from subscribers is divided by the amount of streams and payed out to artists every month. The more plays one artist gets the less money another artist gets. If an artist gets onto a playlist (possibly through a unique deal with Spotify, which is what the article is trying to get to the route of). Then it lowers the chance of another artist to be on that playlist, unless of course playlists aren’t capped at a certain amount of artists. (something i’ve yet to see on Spotify, where most playlist are limited between 30-150 artists). Of course there are plenty of playlists for artists to land on but then only some playlists, particularly the majors and Spotify run ones that get the most attention on the platform. Now if im Spotify and i can put together a popular playlist and negotiate a lower royalty which certain artists then it’s in my business interest to put them on my playlists instead of more expenses artists. So now it’s no longer an issue of subjective taste but of business.

            Now what is really cheeky is that if these supposed deals are real then as Spotify divides the money up between every artist because a bunch of cheaper rate artists are now getting more plays, the more expensive rate artists are getting proportionally less plays and less royalties.

            There are a lot of maybes and more research needs to be done but i’m not going to sit idle. I want the best deal possible for my artists but equally i think any artist should be concerned because it may not be the quality of music that decide what playlists you go on but how expensive you are to Spotifys platform.

            Moving the argument on i think we may start to see a shift in the way music is monetised on the platform. How much should an on demand play generate? how much should a song on a playlist of background music generate?

          • Mainframe

            You can’t lose something if you never had it in the first place. And artists are not entitled to playlist placements. Therefore, Spotify isn’t taking anything from anyone. I feel like this is an issue of artists feeling entitled more than an issue of ethics.

          • Mainframe

            I understand if you think that Spotify is less valuable if they engage in the activity that MBW alleges. I don’t think that makes Spotify unethical, though.

      • vintermann

        It’s not unfair, any more than it’s unfair that a grocery store gives products with a better profit margin better shelf placement. If anything, that’s more fair than what both stores and streaming services usually do: take money for better placement.

        Every artist does have access to these playlists. I found a guy who had nothing but self-published CDs on cdbaby, dozens of them published for over a decade. Very mechanical, minimalist piano music. But he’s a real person, and the featured track was actually really good. I found lots of other good pieces in his discography too.

    • De La

      Sometimes artists are so frustrated by their own lack of success that they need to find an outside culprit for their failures. I believe this is a case in point. Mr. Hockley certainly seems very invested in this as if he feels personally robbed by a music company paying music creators to create music that they think there is a market for. Crazy.

  • 75m streams = what? 20 bucks? There’s no such thing as a fake artist, unless you consider Banksy to be a fake artist as well.

    • john schmidt

      More like $300k…

  • Emil Hadji Panzov

    OK, you found that the same writers are behind dozens of artist names. So what? Is there any wrongdoing? Even if Spotify themselves hired the artists to create songs for their service, I don’t see how it would affect the royalty distribution to what you call “real” artists (which is the main premise behind this witch hunt). There is not a fixed number of playlists and there is not a fixed predetermined number of song slots on a playlist, so the “fake” artists are actually NOT taking anyone’s place.

    • It’s not necessarily the payout that is upsetting. 1) Those slots could have gone to indie artists who actually market and promote their music but seem to get blocked out of the larger Spotify owned playlists, and 2) I could see where the more music a major label has on a playlist, the more power (leverage) they have in a negotiation for payment structure. If 75% of the major playlists are Universal recording artists, I could see where Uni might want a bigger split of the backend pie…and be able to pull their artists off Spotify until then. #Leverage. Aren’t 2 of the US majors up for renegotiation? And isn’t the ones that aren’t named Universal?

      • And are we sure these lovely producers haven’t just found a way to make some extra money and have someone inside Spotify (or a hacker) that gets them onto playlists?

      • Emil Hadji Panzov

        You are not quite right. There is not a predetermined number of slots on a playlist, so those songs haven’t took someone else’s place. There are thousands of playlists and there is space for everyone.

        And Universal already signed a new deal with Spotify. As well as Merlin.

        • Thanks Emil. Didn’t mean to imply there were a limited number of slots, but I DID mean to imply the playlists could have included great indie songs that were actually being marketed and promoted, instead of “fake” songs. And you proved my second point by restating the obvious–Uni signed, Warner and Sony haven’t yet. It’s about the playlist not having a large market share for either label that hasn’t signed. Ask your favorite distributor, they can explain it to you.

      • vintermann

        We know that Spotify’s playlists are highly algorithmically curated. If the algorithm doesn’t choose the songs directly (like I suspect it does for Fresh Finds, and it obviously does for Discover Weekly/Release Radar), then at least the algorithm suggests tracks to the human curators.

        I think that Spotify is fully in its right to weigh licensing costs to themselves when they decide what music to feature, whether it’s by algorithms or humans. If mainstream (or less unlabeled indie) music would have been more successful for them – well, then they’re just punishing themselves and no one should be worried.

  • Caroline Bottomley

    The long strategy is that it’s paving the way for AI music – where royalties don’t have to be paid. Ref: panel presented by a chap creating AI music at the recent BUMA Music in Motion conference, who is in discussion with Spotify and who was very keen to stress throughout that AI music is copyright free. Tim – contact BUMA for more info, I can’t remember the guy’s name. But we did have a slightly spirited discussion about the morality of AI and his personal view during Q&A afterwards.

    • disqus_lQdbINTxbJ

      Hi Caro,
      this is Gary, it was François Pachet, previously of Sony Computer Science Lab….not sure if he had to do gardening leave but I think he is now working at Spotify

      • Caroline Bottomley

        Hey Gary – thanks – yes I remember! Fascinating, questionable, inevitable Cx

        • musicbizworldwide

          Thank you both for the tip-off!!!

  • AniMouseMusic

    Ok, this is not really a Milli Vanilli type of thing, but still, we felt cheated then.
    If you like the music, you may want to know more about the band/musician. To find out that they have a “thing” going on on Spotify might disconnect you with the artist. In the 90’s a lot of dance artists performed under apseudonym. (Look at Aphex Twin, he used a couple…).
    But in the end, even when they got “exposed”, you would still like them because they had a story/style/background that you could relate to. They did that sometimes to experiment with a new genre, so it made sense for them to do so. Ok, some of them might use it as a second chance if a song nosedived in the charts.

    With these guys I have to admit that it feels different. It is a long list of made up band names (Hiroshi Yamazaki was a famous photographer…) and I totally see no point in this construction of making music. Is this just to make money? Are they using an art form just to make money? (although they are not the only ones, I know 😉 Are they testing things out and create a brilliant album under their real name? And how proud are they of making this music! Don’t you want your own name to shine after you have created some work of art?

    Maybe this is more clear….would you rather connect with a band that uses a mask on stage or with a “band” that uses 50 different names and 50 different types of music….

    To me, this is just 50 shades of weird 😉

    In the end, music is all that matters, so for those of you who are a big fan of Tony Lieberman or Mia Strass and wear a t-shirt, have fun 😉

  • Hugh McManners

    This is in effect streaming services turning themselves into labels and marketing their own (lower cost) music – leaving us independent musicians once again struggling for outlets. And as streaming income is so low anyway, if Spotify needs to do this to survive, then real-world name artists seem bound to be pulled down to the same even lower rates. I don’t think this helps music – or music listeners.

    • MegaMan

      It doesn’t and too many people don’t see the problem. Eventually there will be less fresh/new talent on the market, and instead Spotify, Groove, Apple, etc. will be paying artists THEY think are good to make exclusive tracks and play boost those while pocketing the revenue.

  • Alecca

    I don’t think Spotify own the master but these artists are producers with real artists who works exclusively for Spotify and is working together with them to create music that suit their guidelines, like how Netflix creates their own shows. My educated guess is that it is beta testing procedure for a “Spotify Original” program for the playlists that could be expanded to other producers soon. Otherwise I don’t think these artists would be registered with PRS etc. I think Spotify is testing the role as record label for these producers behind these songs, to see if acting as a record label could be a sustainable way for Spotify to turn to profit. The real bad thing however is the lack of transparency, they should be open with it and give appropriate info, for their own sake to avoid this situation of fuzz around it like it is now.
    This is a trend among the new streaming industries, from books, movies to music. Storytel is doing Storytel Originals, Netflix own shows. But the difference is that services is open about what’s going on. I think it would be best for all parties if Spotify were more open about the business behind these artists. But overall I have see a general change of Spotify throughout the last two years, lot of features are removed, so it feels a bit strange about what going on here.

    • Hugh McManners

      Makes sense. But not fair to other artists?

  • Alecca

    Anybody who want to join a new music app project with you later… I have an idea for a new playlist app that will scrape the net for the best Spotify playlist and present them in an institutive way, in which all playlists from major brands is banned in order to promote indie artists. It will be a simple app for android. DM Aquafulness on Facebook for more info.

  • Jerry Butson

    Good music is good music, wherever it comes from. This is NOT a Milli Vanilli situation. If the ‘fake’ music is better than the ‘real’ music then the best music wins. Maybe Spotify has hit upon a winning formula, so are Romdhane and Svendlund any less valid than any other ‘hit factory’ we could mention?

    • MegaMan

      That’s the problem with this, is so many people are trying to act like there is nothing wrong with this, when in fact, this is almost as bad as people who use bots to boost their numbers, and they do it because they know they won’t get very much money from spotify based on it’s botched payment system. To make matters worse, what you and so many other don’t understand, is that artists like these guys (who are no doubt paid by spotify or someone on the “inside”) take money away from already struggling artists. Spotify doesn’t pay a fixed rate thanks to their ad supported freemium model. This limits the pool that artists can take from. On top of that, the big three (Sony, Warner, and Universal) get 50% of their respectives royalties upfront based on what they assume they’ll make in the year, and they make the rest, obviously over the year.

      You, an ignorant consumer (no disrespect intended, I mean that in a “you don’t know the full story” way), see this as okay because you don’t see what happens behind the curtain. Whereas I, and many others who are trying to make even just a little money from our music, see exactly what’s wrong with this, and why it’s wrong.

  • Markus Schneider

    We (Emerald & Doreen Rec) release trendsetting underground electro/house/indiedance/nudisco from real producer talents and upcoming artists from all over the world every week and so far see no real interest from spotify to support these passionate people.
    I would suggest to create a recommendation layer consisting of music experts who get paid to listen and rank new music without knowing who the artists are to allow them to remain neutral in their judgements PLUS create total transparency with rankings that allow listeners to see how much spotify earns by playing a
    track and possibly another ranking indicating how creative and original a track and the artist behind is – this way, listeners could decide consciously who they want to support financially by listening and whether they are interested in supporting passionate new artists or professional producers or both. The age of total transparency is coming anyway so Spotify could become leading in this movement.

  • Tim Fielding

    Unfortunately the cream does not necessarily rise to the top here, and the analogy to fake news is pretty apt. Getting heard and featuring on more Spotify playlists and earning more streaming revenue are increasingly functions of technical savvy and knowing how to game the algorithm, rather like “real news” produced by hard-working reporters with high standards comes second place on the FB newsfeed to misleading junk mass-produced in Macedonian lie factories. You might say a catchy hook equals a click-baity headline but it goes deeper than that and here you can see how it is being exploited. This was bound to happen as a result of the commoditization of music that started with digitization (and some might go back to industrialized commercial radio) and as you can read in books like the recent “Move Fast and Break Things”, the tech pioneers have a looooong way to go before putting their houses in order. This is probably just the tip of an expanding iceberg.

  • I don’t really understand why this is a big deal. Unless it’s being used as a scheme to avoid paying someone their royalties which doesn’t seem to be the case. If it’s just a scheme to cut out labels that didn’t pay for the recording, don’t care.

    • MegaMan

      The thing you DON’T know is that by doing this, indie artists (as well as otherwise unknown artists) make less money per stream. Thanks to spotify’s freemium model, there is no fixed per play rate. Unlike with Groove, Apple, and other streaming services that you have to pay for (outside of a free trial), spotify relies mostly on ads since less than a third of their users are premium users. This means spotify can’t really pay a fixed rate, and instead pays the most to whoever gets the most streams. Doing this undermines the service, in addition to allowing them to pocket more cash from fake artists while not having to pay out royalties. Oh and by the way, a lot of label get 50% of their money upfront based on projections, and make the rest over the course of the year.

      • I’m an indie musician and DEFINITELY am aware of the low payouts haha. I don’t see the correlation between the fake artists and me however, how is a fake artist affecting how many streams I get?

        • MegaMan

          Where did I say they affect the streams you get? I didn’t. I said they affect the PAY. Artists with more streams get paid more because they make up a larger portion of the overall streams. Artists with fewer streams make little money because of the small amount of streams they have. The pay for these streams gets cut even further when artists like these guys get involved because they take away from the pie before you get your chance to touch it.

          • Haha, sorry if I upset you just trying to understand what you’re saying. 🙂 I just drew a conclusion based off the fact that more streams = more money. Based on my understanding of what you’re saying, everybody doesn’t get the same amount of money per stream and Spotify determines that per stream payout on a case by case basis. Is that correct?

          • MegaMan

            Yep, the problem lies in the size of the pool that artists are paid from which does not increase at the same rate the the gross play count does. Essentially the gross play count rises faster than the payout pool. And because of this, at the time of payout, whoever has the most plays gets the biggest piece of the pie, whereas smaller artists get increasingly smaller pieces, since their individual gross play count rises at a lower rate than the pay pool. This is the problem most don’t see with cases like the one in this article

          • ah ok I see thx

          • Or are you just saying that they’re pretending to make playlist for undiscovered artists and not putting the work into looking for undiscovered artists?

          • MegaMan

            This could also be happening, but I cannot and will not say because a lot of the larger playlists aren’t spotify controlled, but are controlled by the big 3 (sony, warner, and universal). I forget specifically who owns which playlist, but at then end of the day they make lists to promote their artists, new or otherwise, before looking for any kind of undiscovered talent. And as such most artists don’t focus on those playlists, but instead try to reach out to indie promoters such as CloudKid, or Suicide Sheep (if he’s still independent that is) since those are controlled by indie curators

  • ee601

    It’s impossible to rack up these kind of streaming numbers without playing the system. Spotify playlisters are the radio producers of today, the ones the promo people all target to get their artists heard. So either these guys have employed playlist promo people or they’ve done it from within Spotify.
    Reminds me of all the dodgy cover versions there are, someone in a studio beavering away copying hits to get the accidental streams from users looking for the originals…

    • MegaMan

      Not all covers are like that though, granted a lot of the guys on Spotify are. One exception to this rule is Smooth McGroove, he does this for the love of the music, and does scat/acapella versioins, and lists them as such, and even contacts the companies to which the songs are licensed before “selling” them via iTunes or Spotify.

  • Hugh McManners

    A shame if the only way for streaming services to make money is by secretly signing up artists at low rates then favouring their tracks. The consequence will be Spotify going bust sooner rather than later – or being bought up for nothing by Sony or whoever – then becoming another label. Artists can only continue trying to build email lists and sell music via their own websites, hoping for anonymous fairness in search engine algorithms that will also hope soon be capable of matching our music with listeners seeking what we’re creating.

  • sam

    If we’re really going to get wound up about the true identities behind songs then shouldn’t we look at all the ghost producers writing tracks for famous pop stars? It’s really no different to nearly all producer jobs, where a standard, and usually low, fee is paid rather than pay-per-play. Yes it’s slightly underhand to inject your own artists into playlists that you own. But labels have been manipulating radio playlists for decades. In fact, the labels partly own Spotify, so it’s just the same when their top artists end up in the most popular playlists. And let’s get serious, these ‘fake’ artists aren’t exactly in the most exciting playlists, things like ‘chill’ or ‘piano music’ are obviously going to be full of formulaic producer style music. If people are happy enough listening to it and the music is good enough, then it’s not hurting anyone.