Major Labels

Fake Beyoncé, SZA Albums Reveal Streaming Fraud Problem

image from cdn.pixabay.comLate last year, new albums by Queen Carter and Sister Solana appeared on Spotify and Apple Music. But instead of being the surprise releases by Beyonce and SZA that fans believed they were, both turned out to be illegally uploaded rough mixes and stolen tracks.

It has now been revealed that both fake releases were uploaded using diy distributor Soundrop with false accounts and metadata. 

“We’ve identified who it is and how they abused our system to get it through,” Zach “Pony” Domer, Soundrop’s brand manager, told Rolling Stone. “We don’t know how the content was obtained originally before it hit our system, but from what I understand these old audio recordings had been floating around on forums and had been shared previously, and because they weren’t official recordings, they couldn’t be identified. The user used fake metadata, obscured information and lied.”

Soundrop does appear to have been blindsided by the upload and is cooperating with authorities. But that it could happen at all, particularly involving the music of two major artists, has revealed an unintended consequence of a virtually unrestricted self-service direct digital distribution.

“This sort of thing happens all the time,” adds Larry Miller, director of the music business program at NYU's Steinhardt School of Music. “People just don’t hear about it because it just doesn’t happen all the time with the biggest artist in the world. Due to the changes in music distribution and the technology of distribution and consumption, these kinds of leaks, whether secret or not, are far more more likely to happen than ever.”

“The various checks that are supposed to be in place are not working or being followed,” according to Dae Bogan of TuneRegistry. “It’s concerning not only that fake albums are passing, but that they’re presumably affecting the overall value of other streams that day. Because there’s no per-stream rate in royalties — royalties are based on cumulative performance of total music releases — people could assume Beyoncé has released a new project, flock to her account and dramatically affect the royalties for other people’s streams.”

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