As if it wasn’t already hard enough to make money from Spotify plays, there’s yet another impediment to indie artists making an honest buck on the platform – playlist hijacking.
Imagine that you have a playlist that you painstakingly curated, selecting each song purposefully and carefully, when all of a sudden a song that you never heard before unexpectedly plays and breaks the mood. To make matters worse, even when you delete it, it keeps coming back again and again – and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Easier Than You Think
That’s playlist hijacking, and one of the biggest perpetrator’s is an obscure Finnish EDM musical act called Pesukone and his label mates S Productions, Teddy Hitz, and Songbot, although they’re not the only ones by the looks of things. Sometimes the artists have generic names like Susan or Julie, and most of them only have a black profile if you follow it back, a sure sign of something underhanded.
You’re probably thinking, “How could this possibly happen?” It’s easier than you think actually.
The default for a playlist on Spotify makes it easy to be viewed by anyone, but there is an option to make it private, although not many select that. If you want to make a group playlist with friends there’s also a “collaborative” mode, which also makes the playlist public and even worse, easily editable. That means that anyone who finds the list can add songs to it whether you want them to or not.
Because this is happening on such a wide scale, and the fact that the songs magically reappear when deleted, it seems to indicate that this isn’t a manual operation and that bots are being employed.
Spotify has weakly responded by allowing the playlist owner to block a user from contributing to a playlist, but you have to know the name of the user first, and like spam email, the bots just change the screen name anyway.
The Big Reason
I know you’re thinking, “There must be another motive behind playing hijacking besides being a nuisance,” and you’re right. Pesukone has rocketed in the top of Finland’s most popular artists, with more than 1.5 million monthly Spotify listeners, even though he or she only has hundreds of followers on Instagram. Yep, they’re making money.
Even worse is the fact that this is actually not against Spotify’s terms of service, at least not yet, but you can bet that the corporate attorney’s are looking at what’s happening closely. There’s a lot of pressure on Spotify at the moment, and the last thing it needs is another controversy and another reason for users to flee the platform.
Now’s a good time to closely check your playlists to make sure that you’re not a victim as well.