Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Spotify denies padding out playlists with ‘fake artists’

Spotify has vehemently denied accusations it is padding out playlists with tracks from ‘fake artists’ in order to scrimp on royalty payments.

The allegations from Music Business Worldwide say some of the most popular Spotify playlists feature little-known artists that have generated millions of plays due to their insertion in playlists like Ambient Chill, which has 425,000 followers (via Guardian).

The firm has been accused of commissioning these artists to create tunes ‘within specific musical guidelines’ in order to minimise the payments to conventionally-licensed rights holders.

Spotify has categorically denied the reports. In a statement, it said: “We do not and have never created ‘fake’ artists and put them on Spotify playlists.

“[It’s] categorically untrue, full stop. We pay royalties – sound and publishing – for all tracks on Spotify, and for everything we playlist. We do not own rights, we’re not a label, all our music is licensed from rightsholders and we pay them – we don’t pay ourselves. We do not own this content – we license it and pay royalties just like we do on every other track.”

However, even within such a strong denial, there’s room for interpretation. Spotify doesn’t specifically deny it is commissioning music, leading to theories it may be agreeing preferable royalty rates for those tracks.

Charles Bolt

The report pointed out that the track Far And Beyond by two-track wonder Charles Bolt has a whopping 19 million plays on Spotify.

Bolt himself has little in the way of a public profile, despite garnering more plays than Taylor Swift’s Blank Space, for example.

Music Business Worldwide reckons there are at least 50 artists in total fitting this bill. Spotify has declined further comment.

Is Spotify acting in good faith here? Drop us a line with your thoughts in the comments section below

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2003, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.