AI technology has rapidly evolved in the last few years. While it brings a lot of possibilities, it also brings unique challenges. For Spotify, that means purging AI-generated songs from the platform because AI-generated users were listening to them and earning royalties for the creators.
Artists make money on Spotify based on, generally, the number of times their song is streamed. The app actually launched a unique website to increase transparency about how much each artist is being paid. We know they paid around $7 billion USD (about $9.4 billion CAD) in royalties to artists in 2021. However, that year, we also learned that Apple paid around twice as much as Spotify per stream.
Even if it’s only a little cash on the side, you could make a few bucks by uploading your original music to the platform and letting users listen. With the rise of AI that can help you make your own music, like Google’s unreleased MusicLM software, some people have taken advantage.
Spotify has removed tens of thousands of songs from its library that were generated by AI. If regular people had been enjoying them, it wouldn’t have been an issue. However, the company detected “artificial streaming” (bots streaming AI-generated songs).
Boomy, a service that uses AI to help people create music, was one company that had its songs taken off the platform.
Its home page boasts that you can “create original songs in seconds, even if you’ve never made music before” and “submit your songs to streaming platforms and get paid when people listen.” Songs created through Boomy were temporarily banned from the platform, but they’ve since been allowed to return.
Boomy said in an announcement on its Discord that “as the music industry continues to navigate the use of bots and other types of potentially suspicious activity, these pauses are likely to happen more regularly and across a wider set of platforms.” It also said that “supporting our artists and creators who use the Boomy platform is our top priority.”
“Artificial streaming is a longstanding, industry-wide issue that Spotify is working to stamp out across our service,” Spotify said in a statement to Gizmodo. “When we identify or are alerted to potential cases of stream manipulation, we mitigate their impact by taking action that may include the removal of streaming numbers and the withholding of royalties. This allows us to protect royalty payouts for honest, hardworking artists.”
The artificial activity was first flagged by the Universal Music Group. They represent some of the biggest artists, including Nicki Minaj, Drake, Shawn Mendes, Aerosmith, and more.
“The real divide is between those committed to investing in artists and artist development versus those committed to gaming the system through quantity over quality,” Universal Music Group chief Sir Lucian Grainge said in a message to employees. “The current environment has attracted players who see an economic opportunity in flooding platforms with all sorts of irrelevant content that deprives both artists and labels from the compensation they deserve.”