How artists are exploiting lax metadata protections by streaming services

While the exact number is debatable, it is now a notorious statistic that minimal music streaming services (“DSPs”) are importing tens of thousands of new tracks every day.

At such a scale, metadata becomes a very convoluted topic; DSPs, based on the quality of information fed to them, are sorting through an almost unmanageable wave of data.

Overlapping metadata entries abound, with music by two or more artists of the same name often grouped together on the same artist page, creating a daunting task (for both copyright holders and DSP) is to separate the individual artist categories after the fact.

(This author is very familiar with the subject, having managed an electronic music artist at the same time sharing a DSP profile with, a French rapper, a Uruguayan reggaeton arranger. and a domestic manufacturer based in Washington, DC. )

To deal with this growing problem, Spotifyfor example, revealed a Content does not match tool through the Spotify For Artists platform – people imagine thousands of artists and copyright holders using it every day.

Collectively, these metadata distribution problems – causing one person’s music to reach another artist’s site or vice versa – are accidents and perhaps the inevitable consequence of negative pervasiveness. Music is entering the retail market 24/7.

But what if tagging the wrong artist pages is not just a headache to deal with, but a monetization scheme?

What if lesser-known artists make a profit by deliberate tagging big-name artists as key collaborators, thus reaching artists’ fan bases through an algorithmic music distribution system like Spotify’s Release Radar?

This is the story of an artist/record label, known by different names Diversification and Variegate.

This author was first alerted to Diversity/Variegate’s unusual activities after being served its releases, over and over, by Spotify’s personalized algorithm equivalent to New Music’s. Friday: Release Radar.

Diversify is an artist project with over 100,000 monthly listeners. It also appears to be the owner behind the shadow work of a number of “brands” and artists whose Spotify (P) line (representing ownership of the recordings) is otherwise known as “ Diversify Entertainment,” “Variegate Records,” “Diversify Association Records,” “Dream Records,” “Variegate Records,” and “Variegate Entertainment” – the list goes on.

The profile diversification page on Spotify offers more questions than answers.

Objectively, the company’s catalog is a disjointed mess, with songs ranging from EDM-pop ballads to hip-hop with blatantly parody lyrics. There is no one performer or uniform theme; instead, dozens of different female and male singers repeat throughout (perhaps from fiverr or a similar freelance rental platform?); Vocal performers sometimes switch abruptly in the middle of the same song.

A particular song – self-assess its sound value – is called “ROYAL KRIPPReleased earlier this year, it even seems to declare itself a sketchy monetization operation: “Kripp pays, Ninja kripp pays, I buy streams with no real plays” as a written line (1:22).

Variegate, appears to be a second alias for Diversify – both sites share recurring motifs and characters, as well as the odd, highly corporate tagline “this song is exclusive to Diversify” ” – offers a more bizarre storyline.

Variegate’s Spotify bio reads, simply, “youtuber.” A quick search reveals that YouTube channel – which links to the Variegate DSP sites – is amazingly an e-commerce self-help advice channel whose bio says “Variegate is a financial channel. Founded in 2021, Variegate has had a lasting impact on contemporary dropshipping lifestyle and culture. The channel hopes to expand the content to other pursuits. “

A quick search of Related Artists on Spotify by Diversify and Variegate will quickly reveal a network of artists collaborating and releasing under the Diversify / Variegate banner, including Lukas Stevens, Susanne Davisand Harper Minta. Each of these artists has a relatively small following, but close to or more than 100,000 monthly listeners.

Interestingly, all of these Diversify/Variegate artists also employ an often repeated tactic that seems impossible without purpose: tagging established artists (each of them). has millions of monthly listeners on Spotify) is the lead artist on their own release. Some of the most popular labels and independent artists appear most frequently: Aries, mike., Yeek, Ashe and WEISS, among others.

Needless to say, none of these artists were actually featured – or even sampled (legally or otherwise) – on tracks.

This author’s release radar already has dozens of releases coming out from Diversify/Variety et al, many in the first few playlist slots and including a new – I don’t give – export appears on the exact date this article was written .

Additionally, Diversify has algorithmically generated its own official “This Is” playlist on Spotify, which appears to contain which of the aforementioned confused artists among millions of daily listeners. month:

This isn’t a Spotify-specific issue – which seems to be intentionally mis-tagged by Diversify, and Variegate extends to all other DSPs as well.

Details are scant about Diversify and the identity of its owner.

The musician metadata in its catalog appears to be intentional: John Smith is listed as the sole songwriter for most releases, and when other musicians appear, they appear to be in the mix. musical writers (including, for example, “Yeekus Steinberg”, who Google, Facebook and other searches return no results. If this is suspected of being a pseudonym, it could even be a means to justify tagging the popular indie artist Yeek.)

Diversify did not respond to a request for comment prior to publishing this piece.

Just to be clear, this section is not intended to be picked up on Spotify – quite the contrary, as the platform and its more granular data are the only means of tying this string of ingenious deception together.

Spotify For Artists – which allows one to compare one’s own artist’s stats with any other artist on the platform – reveals that virtually all Diversify’s (as well as Variegate’s Lukas Stevens’) streams ‘ and its full list) all come from the Radar Release effect, with a peak of 100,000 daily streams on Fridays (when algorithmic playlists are published, weekly) before ending. end of the week (since the editorial and organic streams seem to be close to zero):

Whoever is responsible for the Diversification portfolio – the name itself seems to be an inside joke about the project’s purpose as a form of supplementary income – certainly recognizes the opportunity to exploit lax metadata protections. In “THE GRIND,” ​​they rap, “Getting paid through streams… turned addiction into a business.” And on “King of the Sheets,” they say, “Varieve your f*ckin rhythm.”

One particular collaborator this author follows is teenage rapper YNR Nervy, who appears on Diversify’s latest album, For fanson the track “Real Kripps”:

Finally, it is doubtful that DSPs will eventually provide some form of widespread “profile locking” to prevent forged uploads. But until then, highly creative “artists” can drive millions of streams — earning tens of thousands of dollars each time conservatively — from distributing super-popular songs. intentionally inaccurate data.Worldwide music business

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