Music Business Worldwide has blown the lid on an ingenious Spotify swindle that may have scraped out a seven-figure sum in royalties without breaking any rules.
Remember the Chart Fixer? Back in 2010, some clever/devious kid came up with a plot to manipulate the ARIA charts. It was simple, and dodgy. For a fee, Chart Fixer would crowd-source folks to download copies of a track and essentially buy a berth in the chart. The bigger the fee, the more downloads bought, the higher the chart position.
This Spotify scam is next level.
MBW’s editor Tim Ingram was alerted to a pair of suspicious playlists, Soulful Music and Music From The Heart, which were stuffed with tunes, all of which were attached to ISRC codes that linked back to a base in Bulgaria. Nothing too suspicious there. But the devil, as we’re often reminded, is in the detail.
The playlists were distributed in the industry’s weekly, confidential global playlist chart last year, and started getting traction. Ridiculous traction. By September, Music From The Heart was ranked in the top 100 on Spotify’s global list, and top 30 on its U.S. tally, while Soulful Music climbed into the top 40 globally and possibly cracked the top 10 of the U.S. list. With such lofty numbers, these playlists were outgunning those from Warner Music, Universal and Sony Music.