Some independent artists woke up on New Year's Day with their music deleted off the Spotify service due to what they're calling "fraudulent streams". A source at Spotify told Hype Bot the amount of music deleted was in "the low ten thousands", while music industry attorney Wallace Collins alleges they deleted upward of 750,0000.
"It appears that on January 1, 2021, Spotify enacted a massive, global takedown of music from thousands of independent artists," said Wallace on his site. "Upon information and belief, some 750,000 songs were removed, the vast majority of which appear to have used Distrokid for distribution. It appears no major label artists have been affected nor has any major label music been taken down as part of this purge."
Spotify claims they did not target users employing DistroKid, though they did not elaborate what criteria they used to determine if an artist was inflating their streams. Wallace claims the removal campaign appears to be "targeted at any independent artist who used a third party playlist or independent marketing service to promote their music – or any third party advertising outside of the Spotify platform" and did not affect any major artists.
"It is worth nothing that each of the major record labels, Sony, Universal and Warner Music, have an equity stake in Spotify," said Wallace. "Moreover, in 2018 Spotify acquired a stake in DistroKid.
"Depending on the underlying facts of the situation, all of this may give rise to antitrust issues or even a possible class action lawsuit if it turns out to be true that this was done to restrict artists to only paying Spotify for advertising or if it is otherwise shown to be a ploy by Spotify to avoid accounting and paying royalties for the music of the independent artists using their Distrokid affiliate for distribution."
Outside Hype Bot's source, Spotify has not commented on the issue.