Do you know that some of the most played New Age music artists on Spotify actually don’t exist? Music by these “artists” is purely used as playlist fillers! In this article I try to find out more about fake artists on Spotify – and what it means for a minor genre like New Age music.
Last summer quite a few articles were written about fake tracks on Spotify. See The Verge’s coverage here.; “a source confirms that Spotify does reach out to labels to request specific types of tracks to fill out its playlists.” To Billboard a spokeperson from Spotify replied: “We do not and have never created ‘fake’ artists and put them on Spotify playlists. Categorically untrue, full stop.” But there seems to be truth to this.
The hunt for Shiroishi
I decided to check if this could be true. I started by looking at the extremely popular playlist Peaceful Meditation (150.000+ followers) – and things started to smell fishy at the very first track!
And track no. 2 and 3…
This is the first track in the Peaceful Meditation playlist. It has a very nice cover!
Have you heard about Shiroishi? I haven’t. Apparently Shiroishi has 375.000+ monthly listeners, and about 10 million total plays. Shiroishi is therefore one of our genre’s most popular artists. Shiroishi has only published one other song, Take me back.
Finding out anything about Shiroishi turned out to be just as hard as finding out who Satoshi Nakamoto is (the enigmatic creator of the blockchain technology). Impossible!
A Google search did not help. The song in question is on Deezer as well (but nowhere else, which proves nothing). So I decided to see how I could license this song for playback on New Age Stars Radio, like I do with all songs.
I started with a mandatory search at the US Copyright Office. They did not know anything;
Then I moved on to the three top organizations for artists and copyright holders – no hits here either – which is unheard of when talking about published music. Remember that we are here talking about an artist who is having millions of plays.
It is like Shiroishi doesn’t exist! Or, at least, no one out there who is collecting royalties. In the music business that is the same as not existing.
Two next artists
The next artist on the Peaceful Meditation playlist, MVS, has almost a million monthly listeners (that’s 400.000 more than Enigma!), and about 15 million total plays. That must be some kind of record – coming out of nowhere, releasing two songs, getting millions of plays – and not releasing anything more!
The same goes for track no. 3 by Guyara. Another artist who has released two songs, and has, for some reason, received millions of plays.
I just didn’t want to continue further down on the list. This is just BS. Where are the real artists?! It makes me sad to think about those fine artists we all know that deserves to be on this playlist.
Royalty free, genetic sounding fillers
Legally speaking Spotify is doing nothing wrong. Its users want a playlist with meditative songs, and this is what they get. That said, I’m confident that the users want music by established artists, not just fluff and genetic sounding filler.
Spotify really should tag these songs as «Made for Spotify», because that’s what they are. But I suspect that they don’t want to do that. A «Made for» is a seal of approval, and Spotify is really just getting some almost free songs in genres where there’s no quality expectations and few known performers.
Is there a way to get rid of the fake artists? I guess Spotify can do what they want – it is their playlists. And as long as their users listen to and follow these fake artists and playlists, everything is OK from Spotify’s perspective..
What do you think?
For your listening pleasure – these are some of our genre’s most popular, but highly enigmatic, artists. The three have, in total, released six – 6 – songs! How about that.