Why are all these fake bands suddenly showing up on Spotify?

With 45 million+ songs in the Spotify library, it’s hard to keep track of what’s actually in there. So it’s no surprise that every once in a while some strange things show up.

Ever heard of acts like Cappisko, Hundra Ao, Onxyia, Bergenulo Five, DJ Bruej and Bratte Night? Go ahead, try and Google them. They don’t seem to have any Internet presence except on Spotify, where they seem to be cropping up on playlists, sometimes racking up tens of thousands of plays.

There are no fan pages, no Facebook pages, no photos, no gig reviews or tour schedules, or links to record labels. In other words, these tracks are getting forced on users. They show up in streams completely unbidden and unwanted. It’s like the song equivalent of spam.

According to a BBC investigation, all material by these acts are lyric-free, short, simple song titles, and nearly non-existent artwork. There’s even a name for them now: mysterycore.

How is it that thousands of Spotify users have been exposed to artists that no one has ever heard of? Has someone found a way to game the Spotify algorithm?

Spotify says it doesn’t have a clue, although they do acknowledge what they call “abnormal streaming activity.” They had this to say to the BBC:

“We take the artificial manipulation of streaming activity on our service extremely seriously. Spotify has multiple detection measures in place monitoring consumption on the service to detect, investigate and deal with such activity.

“These artists were removed because we detected abnormal streaming activity in relation to their content.”

Fascinating. Notice any of these songs during your Spotify listening?

Read the whole BBC report here. There’s additional information at MBW, too.

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.

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