Investigative website ProPublica claims that Spotify and Apple Music’s artist profile systems have been exploited in order to gain coveted Instagram verified profiles. This process is “quick and easy,” according to ProPublica’s source. The alleged scammers would create fake artist profiles, upload music (“often nothing more than basic looping beats”), and then illicitly boost the streaming numbers of those tracks, as well as buying articles promoting those artists on legitimate websites. This mix of streaming numbers, the presence of a “verified artist” check on the artist’s Spotify profile, and external media coverage was then used as “proof” in applications for a Instagram verification checkmark – often on impostor accounts of real Instagram users, to trick their fans.
One of the songs on the Spotify artist profile of “DJ Dr. 6ix” had been streamed “close to 60,000 times,” the article alleges, “but included 90 seconds of dead air and credits an apparently made-up writer: “gbfred gtfrde.”” Spotify said that it had identified artificial streams on many of the 173 profiles highlighted by ProPublica, and had removed more than 100 of the artists from its platform.
Maybe all of this shouldn’t be huge surprise: we spoke about how streaming platforms are targeted for fraud only last week with startup Beatdapp in an episode of our Focus podcast. They explained the scale of this problem and spoke of a household-name DJ, for whom “the overwhelming majority of their streams were being diverted to the wrong content owner.”
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