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  • Writer's pictureJerry Ipsen, CFE, MBA

Music Streaming Fraud and Due Process

Streaming fraud has posed a significant threat to both artists and to their distributors.  According to the research firm MIDiA, artists utilizing DIY distribution services like DistroKid and TuneCore collectively earned in excess of $1.8 billion in 2023.

 

The effect, both good and bad, has been felt by artists using these DIY distribution services and who’ve had their songs removed due to “supposed” bot or artificial streaming fraud.  For example, According to Variety Magazine, in February, artist Benn Jordan, who to date (May 2024) had earned more than $500,000 in streaming royalties found TuneCore without warning had removed 23 of his albums from all streaming platforms.  This occurred right after Spotify had notified TuneCore that it had detected significant artificial streaming activity of his (Jordan’s) music.

 

A Spotify spokesperson later said in a statement to Variety: “When Spotify identifies and confirms artificial streams, we (Spotify) withhold royalties from those streams and report the activity to the label or distributor. Spotify does not tell labels and distributors to remove content from our platform, but they may enforce their own removal policies.  This is corroborated in Spotify’s statement to Ars Technica. In fact, Spotify told Ars “that it never instructed TuneCore to remove Jordan's music and the removal of Jordan's music across all streaming platforms, was TuneCore's call.” 

 

TuneCore in its own statement that appeared in the Digital Music News, stated that upon investigation it had “discovered that an error was made in our (TuneCores) notification system” – an error that resulted in Jordan’s not being “properly contacted” or receiving “a warning or opportunity to validate the activity on his account.”  Kudos to TuneCore! In fact, following the investigation by TuneCore, Jordan’s music was redistributed to several streaming platforms.


Has what happened to Jordan raised enough interest among artists hopefully demanding due process especially for those who’ve had their music removed or taken down by labels and distributors?  Is the detection of bots relating to artificial streaming enough to remove an artist’s music without a thorough investigation in the first place?  Are we to accept the status quo or is due process too much to ask for, especially for an artist who’ve had their music (mistakenly, wrongfully, or otherwise) removed (or taken down) to want to see written reports and warnings in addition to printouts of identified suspicious activity.

 

Along with being provided the aforementioned documentation, artists should be afforded the opportunity to respond before any action is taken against them.  Finally, artists through collaboration must stand together and insist on a uniform reporting standard that would include a thorough investigation prior to the removal or suspension of an artist’s music.




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