You’ve Never Heard Of One Of The Most Streamed Artists, And He Wants It That Way

We’ve all heard the stories about fake artists on Spotify and other streaming services, and every time a crackdown occurs some new ones just pop up to take their place. But now there’s evidence that it may be the same composer who’s behind a great many of them. The Swedish Dagens Nyheter (DN) recently ran an expose (available here but you’ll have to read Swedish to understand it) that identified a Swedish composer named Johan Röhr as one of the most streamed artists on Spotify, and no one’s ever heard of him until now.

Most streaming artists fake

Röhr is said to be behind over 2,700 songs using “50 composer aliases and at least 656 invented artist names” that was good for over 15 billion streams on the platform! Some of those names include Minik Knudsen, Mingmei Hsueh, Csizmazia Etel, and Adelmar Borrego. He is one of the top 100 most streamed artists ever on Spotify, surpassing even superstars like Michael Jackson and Mariah Carrey.

It’s In The Playlists

So how did he do it? Johan managed to get on 144 official Spotify instrumental playlists, which have a combined total of 62 million followers. In fact, in many cases half of the total playlist was made up of songs from Röhr via his many aliases. According to DN, one of the major instrumental playlists called Stress Relief featured 41 of his songs out of 270, all with fake names.

Spotify doesn’t limit artists from releasing songs under a fake name and that’s probably a good thing, since so many artists use a stage name. That said, it does seem strange that a Swedish composer gets away with this outrageous action with a Swedish company. Not only that, Spotify refused to be interviewed for the DN article, which makes it all the more suspicious.

The big problem I have with this is that anyone who games the system, as Röhr appears to have done, makes it that much harder for someone who’s legit to get their music in front of the public. Not only that, it’s not good for listeners as well, as I can’t imagine that any artist could have that much diversity in their sound that someone couldn’t tell after a while of listening.

This is a great reason why real journalism counts. We want the truth out there, and exposing a gamed system levels the playing field for everyone else.

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