Strange Fruits, a label-cum-playlist company that has racked up millions of followers on Spotify, is rebranding as Fruits Music while announcing other major plans in the pipeline.
Those plans include doubling down on its in-house record label, and launching a first-party subscription app called Sleep Fruits.
The rebranding coincides with the Netherlands-headquartered company’s fifth anniversary this year.
“The Strange Fruits name has served us well over the last five years during which time we have grown to be a dominant player in global independent streaming market,” founder and CEO Stef van Vugt said.
“However, as we move into a new phase of our business, which will see us expand our offering and introduce new products and opportunities to engage directly with music fans and entertainment consumers, it is time to re-position our brand to reflect those changes,” the executive added.
Strange Fruits or Fruits Music describes itself as a music and tech company that specializes in music playlist promotion via creative marketing.
Since its launch five years ago, Fruits Music has transitioned into various musical genres including Lo-Fi, Jazz, Dance and more, as well as creating audio playlists targeted to ‘moods’ and activities such as sleep, concentration, and nature simulations.
The controversial company founded by 25-year-old Van Vugt has rapidly grown its presence on Spotify and other music streaming services.
“As we move into a new phase of our business, which will see us expand our offering and introduce new products and opportunities to engage directly with music fans and entertainment consumers, it is time to re-position our brand to reflect those changes.”
Stef van Vugt
In its most recent press release, Fruits Music said it will now position its in-house record label as a frontline imprint, with plans to sharpen its focus on A&R to attract more high-profile signings to its own label.
Fruits Music is also looking to release its own app for meditation sounds and bedtime stories called Sleep Fruits, which the company says gathered over 25,000 active users in beta adopting a subscription-based model.
A Minecraft server for in-app purchase called Fruits Craft is also underway. Both the health and mindfulness app and the Minecraft server are still in Beta mode.
Fruits Music additionally intends to make its virtual artist MELON, a digitally animated mascot, a ‘real-world live and recording artist.’
Other plans on the pipeline include making the company’s marketing technology available to third parties starting with several external rights holders.
“We will continue to advocate for a fair, balanced and transparent streaming environment, which is vital to the overall health of the music industry. We hope that by keeping an open mind, studying their consumer data and supporting all those who deliver creativity, these services can provide a level playing field for both the biggest hit makers and smallest niche writers to thrive,” Van Vugt said.
“Fruits Music will always be a home for outcasts, innovators, and creators everywhere.”
Stef van Vugt
“Our in-house label has always been a key part of what we stand for and it is time now to properly focus time, effort and resources on this part of our business. Fruits Music will always be a home for outcasts, innovators, and creators everywhere,” Van Vugt said.
Global is the label is behind Romanian superstar Minelli, whose single Rampampam peaked at No.6 on the Global Shazam charts in 2021.
Strange Fruits (now Fruits Music) has managed to cash in on Spotify’s revenue-sharing royalty system: many of its tracks within certain ‘rain’ playlists are just over 30 seconds long, according to a Rolling Stone exposé last year.
This model has sparked accusations that ‘fake artists’ or playlists like those owned by Strange Fruits hurt ‘real’ artists who get a smaller share of Spotify’s revenue pool.
Van Vugt dismissed those accusations in a podcast with Music Business Worldwide founder Tim Ingham in late July, stating that it’s up to the users that paid for a subscription to decide what to listen to on platforms like Spotify.
Ingham suggested that artists on Fruits Music’s playlists may not be getting enough public recognition in how they are credited – tracks on those playlists are credited to the playlist itself as the primary ‘artist’.
However, Van Vugt argued that a lot of musicians “don’t want to be the next superstar” and are not seeking validation of their work.Music Business Worldwide