How to Scam Spotify for Fun and Profit

Chances are you’ve never heard of Matt Farley but it’s possible that users of Spotify have–not that they wanted to.

Farley studied the algorithms used by Spotify to serve up songs into streams.  He discovered that people were often using specific words to search for songs–words that weren’t necessarily included in the titles of the songs.  What if he titled his songs with some of those words?

Farley started releasing songs with titles like “The Sorry Apology Song” and “Song About Sydney, New South Wales.”  He also came up with tracks named after Zooey Deschannel, Jon Hamm and Benedict Cumberbatch. Would the algorithms pick up his tracks for streams?

They did.  And because artists are paid on a per-listen and per-download basis, Farley started making some good coin from Spotify, even though his music wasn’t very good.

How much?  The Guardian reports that he’s earned over  £13,000 a year for sharing 14,000 songs.  Clever, no?

Read more at Gigwise.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

3 thoughts on “How to Scam Spotify for Fun and Profit

  • February 1, 2014 at 6:37 am
    Permalink

    What a thoroughly unresearched article. You read a Guardian article, maybe listened to half a song and wrote a blog post. Firstly how is he scamming anyone? What’s the scam? that someone who spends days, months and years of his life writing funny, different, joyful, personalised and specific songs gets paid a fraction of a cent every time someone thinks ‘ooh what’s this song about my home town/football team/favourite actor all about?’
    If someone listens to 2 seconds of his track and doesn’t like it, what has the listener lost but time?
    I was recently listening to his ‘Hungry Food Band’ songs this week (all for free on Spotify I might add – cost me NOTHING!) and is every single one a hit? no of course not, you write 14,000 songs and have them all be good, hell some so-called popular and famous bands can’t write 1 good song let alone thousands, but the majority of the songs were short, catchy and, yes, funny. Are they to everyone’s taste? no, of course not, the majority of people have no sense of humour but, I ask again, what’s the scam?
    Do you know that his ‘Will you go to the prom with me’ songs and ‘birthday name’ songs have been downloaded by people, who have made funny and interesting youtube videos out of them so that teens can ask each other out to the prom in a creative, romantic and funny way? Oh yeah that’s something we need to put a stop to! That’s something we need to be all cynical and snarky about, am I right?
    May I ask, why even write this blog? Did Motern Media do anything to you? Were you unable to find your favourite tracks on Spotify because you searched and were bombarded with a thousand Motern Media songs? NO! because on Spotify when you search ‘U2’ or ‘Adele’ or whoever, guess what comes up – U2 and Adele! So stop it. Someone is making money working every hour that he’s not CARING FOR KIDS (his day job) writing songs. Funny, silly, joy filled songs. You may not like them but don’t hate the process.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • February 1, 2014 at 9:00 am
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      Wow. What negativity. A lot of what I do on this site is aggregation of content, which is exactly what I was doing with this article.

      Kudos to the dude for coming up with this scheme, but let’s face it: he was looking to game the system. He found a vulnerability in Spotify’s algorithms and exploited it in a very clever way. Good for him.

      But was he really offering any kind of value to Spotify users? I guess that all depends on your personal tastes when it comes to his music. My quick sample of the dude’s material left me kinda cold.

      Reply
  • February 1, 2014 at 9:41 am
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    Actually my intention was not to be negative. My comment was about the positive aspect of what he does. The negativity came from your original post which, while you claim it is just aggregation of content, it’s not just that. The ‘content’ is the bare bones of one article with a hugely opinionated slant on it.
    How do you know what Spotify users feel about his work?
    My guess is 98% don’t know it exists and the few that do are listening to the songs and enjoying them (mostly FOR FREE lest we forget as Spotify makes its money through advertising to free users, I know you can have a paid for subscription but Motern Media is not making any money off that). Also he is not making £13,000 off Spotify listens alone. That’s incorrect. It doesn’t even account for half of what he’s making actually (information I got by reading more than one article) and so that means people are enjoying and buying his songs on iTunes and amazon, not being tricked into doing so but by previewing them and purchasing them because they like it, it makes them laugh, it makes them happy.
    All of which is a moot point as, it’s your blog, you can write whatever you like.
    My question was, why write what you did? Because you didn’t like a couple of the songs?
    You have no real information or details of what Motern Media does or produces and you have boiled everything down to him figuring out some algorithm like he is a hacker or an evil genius or something. Which is not what he did actually, what he did was he had a serious band and released lots of thoughtful, “proper” songs and a couple of novelty ones. He found the novelty songs did well and so decided to start writing songs about a variety of topics users may be drawn to: sports, their home town, vampires, musicians – whatever. He didn’t work out some secret algorithm, or exploit ‘vulnerability’ he did what lots on the internet do, latch on to populist topics and trends to get his creativity and art out there and yes to get attention and maybe some money.
    You know, like you do with your blog… you aggregate content. Right? You find trending topics and filter them through your blog, where you get attention and maybe, through advertising, a tiny amount of money.
    Now, you may not like the music and that’s absolutely cool and fine, everyone has an opinion and everyone has a right to voice it. I actually love and embrace that. It’s also fine for you to aggregate content left and right to get people to visit your blog. I just wondered, in this case, when the person in question is a fellow internet content creator, you did it in such a mean spirited way. That’s all.

    Reply

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