Spotify accuses indie band of "streaming fraud" over 8-year-old song name

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2024/07/10/spotify-accuses-indie-band-of-streaming-fraud-over-8-year-old-song-name.html

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They’re doing it to a lot of people (me included). On its face, they expect creators to police the playlist world they created - beyond that, it’s another way to stiff independents and funnel more money to the top. Dump the Green Death Star and stream anywhere else.

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Algorithms, eh? A few days after leaving a Trustpilot review for my online bank (at the prompting of said bank, who I have been with for about 28 years) I had the following email:

your Trustpilot account has been flagged because we believe it relates to review seller networks that buy and sell fake reviews. On that basis we’ve suspended your account and removed your reviews from our platform. While we’re confident that this is the right call, we appreciate that sometimes we get it wrong

This was only the third review I’ve ever written on Trustpilot over maybe 10 years. I responded with “Not something I’ll lose sleep over but if you do reinstate the account that would be great.”

They then asked for documentation about me being a legit customer - which I provided. Since then I’ve had 2 replies with:

We’re really sorry we haven’t got back to you yet, we aim to review your dispute and respond to you as quickly as possible, but due to current volumes this may take up to 7 more working days.

I really don’t give a shit at this point, but it’s clear that they (and many other services) rely on faulty algorithms to detect “cheating”, and then don’t have enough staff to handle the botched false positives.

Morons.

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Same thing happened to me when I wrote a review of a company on Trustpilot: they asked me for proof that I was a customer and I told them to take a hike (well, actually I took a hike, because I never responded). Presumably the tenor of my review caused them to think I was gaming the system, when in fact it was an honest review, and not particularly fawning or critical, either.

In any case, I have absolutely no incentive to engage with Trustpilot further, on this matter or any in the future.

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The amazing thing about this is that Spotify isn’t coming at the fraud problem from the other direction: bands that are creating SEO-attack-optimized junk tracks like “Dinner Jazz Playlist” as the artist name and “Jazz Mix” “Jazz Playlist” etc as track names.

Like, I know you laid off dozens of UX people in the last year, but maybe hire one back to just sit with an Alexa and notice which phrases get hijacked by actual grifters?

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This ain’t rocket science.

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now that the song is in danger, i just had to listen to it thanks to the streisand effect. good job, spotify!

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When Spotify withholds royalties from artists, the major record labels still make money because they are partnered with Spotify. There’s no incentive for Spotify to correct mistakes like this, and no incentive for the band’s label to stick up for them either. I’m glad I don’t use Spotify.

And it’s interesting that Spotify has not said it will stop streaming the song-- just that they’ll stop paying the artist when it is streamed. Nice work if you can get it.

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On a vaguely related note, Spotify is chock full of tracks and artists whose names are some combination of “Poop”, “Bum”, “Fart”, and the like, presumably because I’m not the only person with kids who think it’s hilarious to say “Alexa, play Poo Poo Bum Bum” or whatever and collapse in gales of childish laughter. Can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same at their age, if only we had the technology :roll_eyes:.
I assume this is reasonably lucrative for the “artists”, who probably find it trivially easy to resurrect their accounts under slightly different names when and if they get suspended by the same dragnet.

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“Your data doesn’t fit our model, so we can’t reliably monetize it. Obviously this is against our terms of service, where we can freely label it as fraud to look like the good guys”

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Joe Lycett did a piece on Trustpilot a few years back. Basically any business can contact Trustpilot and claim that a review was left by a competitor or that its fake and it will be taken down.

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There’s a similar issue on Tesla cars: I suspect you will find higher-than-expected stream counts for the nearest-match tracks titled “Turn on wipers” and similar operational phrases that get misinterpreted as song requests.

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Spotify seems like another internet based business which offers an improvement over the drudgery of owning CD, or a radio, or something, but it’s lurking between the creatives and the end users, soaking money from each of them.

I used not to want to subscribe because I hate subscribing to services, but I haven’t heard a single story which makes me think Spotify is good. This is just the latest of several which make me think it’s bad.

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I think you mean “some inexplicable reason” rather than “some inextricable reason”.

That Spotify can monetize an artist’s creativity and discount them for fraud shows that human behaviour outweighs the platform… This is true also of finance and could be expected, though.

Even when the option for equality prevents itself, money is more useful than opinion in the streaming music industry.

Spotify has pulled down 2 of my band’s EPs in the last 6 weeks for alleged artificial streaming first one, then a few weeks later, another. Wondering how much they’ll decide to snipe. It’s interesting, we didn’t get any sort of warning email or anything, just an email letting us know they pulled it. No real appeal process either. Pretty lame all around.

Stream Scoop The Mids while you still can!!

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