Last year, music industry publication Music Business Worldwide (MBW) claimed Spotify was putting fake artists in some of its popular playlists. The publication listed 50 artists it claimed were not real. Why would they do such a thing? To keep royalty costs down. MBW claimed that Spotify “was asking producers to create music to specification and paying them a flat fee to own the track outright,” reports FACT Magazine. “These tracks — which MBW alleged were being used to bulk up numbers on ambient, chillout and piano playlists — are said to be owned by Spotify so that the company could circumvent royalty payments on playlists that have millions of subscribers.” From the report: The claims were brought to wider attention by a feature published by Vulture last week, which picked out acts called Deep Watch and Enno Aare as examples of “fake artists” that had racked up two million and 15 million streams despite having no public profile. In a statement given to Billboard last week, Spotify refuted the allegations made by both MBW and Vulture. “We do not and have never created ‘fake’ artists and put them on Spotify playlists,” the company said. “Categorically untrue, full stop. We pay royalties — sound and publishing — for all tracks on Spotify, and for everything we playlist. We do not own rights, we’re not a label, all our music is licensed from rightsholders and we pay them — we don’t pay ourselves. We do not own this content — we license it and pay royalties just like we do on every other track.” In a piece published yesterday, MBW challenged Spotify’s statement, citing anonymous sources in the music business who claimed that the practice has been going on for a “long time.”
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