BEWARE! Indie artists are getting scammed on Spotify

A group of deceptive independent musicians recently uncovered a secret way to game one of Spotify’s most popular playlists for new music discovery.

by James Shotwell of Haulix

We make a lot of content about scams in the music industry, and for a good reason. Nothing infuriates more than people taking advantage of dreamers for selfish personal gain. People shouldn’t be afraid to trust others with their aspirations, especially on Spotify of all places, but such is the world we live in.

Billboard recently reported on a new scam involving independent artists who leverage the following of other independent musicians for personal gain. These performers upload songs to Spotify with other, larger artists tagged as featured on the music. That tag gets the attention of Spotify’s algorithm, which then takes the material and distributes it to the release radar of people who follow or frequently listen to the more popular artist (who—to be clear—is not actually on the track in question). 

When fans realize they’ve been lied to, the artist perpetuating the myth has already earned another stream for their song. Multiply that by hundreds if not thousands of incidents, and deceptive musicians could easily see a sizable boost in their streaming revenue through continual use of this tactic. 

There’s a related problem that also needs addressing. Major label artists do not have to worry about similar scams being attempted with their likeness. As Music Biz host James Shotwell details in his latest video, Spotify has a manual review process to ensure the top of the charts cannot be fooled by deceptive business practices. That forces us to ask: Why don’t independent artists get the same treatment?

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company’s podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.

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