At least two playlists on Spotify’s top earning chart might have scammed the Swedish streaming giant out of over $1,000,000 in 2017.
The playlists Soulful Music and Music From The Heart, both filled will hundreds of tracks around 40 seconds in length caught the attention of major label executives last September due to their unusually high position on the confidential revenue chart that Spotify shares with major labels and publishers. Music From The Heart peaked at #84, while Soulful Music reached an impressive #35 position.
The majority of the tracks’ ISRC codes (the information that matches a song or video with it’s writers, publishers, producers, etc.) are registered to Bulgaria, making it likely that is where the owner of the playlist’s resides.
According to Spotify’s data, the playlists were regularly streamed by the same 1,200 profiles, so either just over 1,000 people are addicted to the same songs, or the people behind the playlist has set up 1,200 premium accounts that constantly play through the tracks. At a cost of $12,000 per month.
While that may seem like a staggering overhead to keep up with, Spotify’s system requires a 30 second stream for the play to be eligible for monetisation of around $0.004 per play, so with an average length of 43 seconds the tracks on the playlists could generate $288,000 per month if all 1,200 accounts streamed 24/7.
Though if you also consider the use of a bot that could auto-skip each track after the required 30 seconds, the revenue would come in at around $415,000 per month, quite a return on the $12,000.
The playlists are suspected to have been running for several months before being detected, meaning whoever was behind it could have made off with over $1M in revenue.
While nothing the scammers were doing seems to be illegal, one could argue the fact that Spotify’s revenue-per-play comes down to how much they can afford to pay out from their premium subscription revenue, so the money is technically being stolen from deserving songwriters.