Appearance of Soulful Music before its disappearance. Capture: MBW

Soulful Music is one of Spotify’s most popular playlists. It is number 25 worldwide and the eleventh in the United States. Do not feel bad if you’ve never heard any of his 467 songs. The list is the visible face of an ingenious million-dollar royalty scam.

In Music Business Worldwide , they carried out an in-depth investigation of the one that has all the characteristics to become the case of the most twisted and talked about copyright scam in recent years. The best part is that, the scam could be perfectly legal. Its author or authors (the IP refers to Bulgaria) have simply taken advantage of the operation of Spotify.

Spotify is a platform that offers music to its clients (whether they are paid or those who hear advertisements on the platform) on their lists belong to the artists or the labels that uploaded them. In order for these owners of copyrights to be paid, their songs must be heard a couple of times.

The first step of the authors of this alleged scam has been to upload 467 own songs (no matter if they are bad or good) of just over 30 seconds, the unit of time needed to trigger a monetized play on Spotify.

The next step was to get people to listen to the songs, although we should talk about creating people who listen to them. Soulful Music barely has 1,800 subscribers, but 1,200 of those subscribers are recurring visitors.

It is possible that there are 1,200 crackpots listening to the same list that nobody else knows, over and over again, but the Music Business Worldwide hypothesis is that the authors of the scam must have created 1,200 Spotify premium users and have listened to the list in a loop 24 hours a day.
Pay 1,200 premium accounts seems a bad business, but we are talking about a monthly cost of no more than 12,000 euros, probably less if they took advantage of family plans. Yes, it is a Chinese job because you have to create 1,200 email accounts and configure everything. Maybe they found some way to automate the work at some point.

The fact is that, if we stick to the MBW calculations, the work comes out more than on account. 1,200 users listening to the 467 songs all the time supposes a total of about 60,000 reproductions per month. If we multiply by the number of users we get around 72 million views. If we assume that spotify, in the worst case, pays 0.004 dollars per reproduction, we think that the user or Bulgarian users were earning between 288,000 and 415,000 dollars per month in royalties. It all depends on whether they came up with a system to pass the song by 30 seconds.

Of course, it pays to pay $ 12,000 in premium accounts. In fact they were doing so well that they were discovered because of their excessive success. The songs of Soulful Music have been eliminated, but everything makes suspect that they had been milking Spotify for months under the same noses of the record companies. It is also believed that Soulful Music was not his only list, although it was the most successful one.

Spotify has sent a statement to MBW in which they claim to fight with all means at their disposal against these practices, but neither confirm nor deny the Bulgarian case. If true, it could be the perfect scam.

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