Music Business

Keeping Rightsholders Safe From Fake Artists

While the age of illegal downloads may be largely behind us, other unlawful and deceptive practices have sprung up to take their place in the streaming era. Here, Symphonic Distribution CEO Jorge Brea breaks down some of the key ways rightsholders are being kept safe from pay-for-streams, fake artists and other dangers.

Guest post by Jorge Brea of the Symphonic Blog

Instances of illegal activity like pay-for-streams, fake artists and many other deceptive practices have been well-documented. As an independent company who truly cares about the rights of hard-working artists, we can’t stand for them being taken advantage of on such a large scale.

However, we will stay informed, spread the knowledge and dedicate ourselves to ensure our practices are secure. Our artists will get the recognition and compensation they rightfully deserve.

Protecting Rightsholders from Fake Artists

What are “fake” artists?

“Fake” artists are impersonators who steal music from real, hard-working artists and upload the tracks on streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music under false names through unsuspecting distributors. This is nothing new, as these impersonators have been making millions of dollars in royalties, stolen from their rightful owners.

Learn more: 

Over 112 Artists Affected in Sweeping Streaming Song Theft

How Artist Imposters and Fake Songs Sneak Onto Streaming Services


How do they do it?

Through independent distributors with limited oversight, these “fake” artists swindle their way through the process and upload infringing content right under the distributors’ nose. While these practices are strongly prohibited, these impersonators simply lie, using fake information along and other tactics hoping nobody notices until it’s too late. This seems too good to be true, but it has been working. It has been working so well that these impersonators have been making insane amounts of money off of music they literally have zero right to.

We can’t stand this.

What are we doing to prevent this?

At Symphonic, we are meticulous in our screening and approval process.

  • We go out of our way to contact artists if we think they’re being misrepresented on an application and confirm their true identity.
  • Our team uses audio fingerprinting to identify content, check suspicious data against historical archives, and pattern recognition to identify and thwart these activities.
  • We listen to each song that is submitted. Yes, every single one is listened to by individuals with expertise in music both past and present and relevant culturally.
  • We run the music through the fingerprinting tool to see if there is any sampling that isn’t original. This tool also lets us see if any samples are currently live.
  • Not only do we check the artist names, we always ensure metadata integrity.
  • We make sure any major artist releases or covers have paperwork attached to the release to verify the authenticity prior to going out and being delivered.


Sharpen your skills:

What are Neighboring Rights? Why are they important?

4 Steps for Licensing Your Next Single


We know our efforts won’t fix the problem for the entire industry, but we owe it to our clients to prevent this epidemic from affecting them. It’s our responsibility as a reliable distributor to monitor issues like this and ensure the rights of our artists are protected.

Jorge Brea: CEO of Symphonic Distribution, Tech Nerd, Husband, Movie Buff, Apple aficionado & former DJ.

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