Press Clipping
How Artist Imposters and Fake Songs Sneak Onto Streaming Services

In the case of the Beyoncé and SZA leaks, the leakers distributed the tracks to Spotify and Apple Music via Soundrop. Zach Domer, a brand manager for Soundrop, says he believes the leakers used the service because it does not require an upfront fee for distribution. “It’s like, ‘Oh cool, I don't have to pay DistroKid’s $20 fee to do this fake thing,’” he said. “You can’t prevent it. What you can do is make it such a pain in the ass, and so not worth doing, that [leakers] just go back to the dark web.”

Domer told Pitchfork that Soundrop relies on a variety of systems to vet the legitimacy of their content, including “audio fingerprinting” systems similar to those powering the music identification app Shazam, as well as a small content approval team of three to four people. The team reviews any submissions that come back flagged, either because the songs triggered the fingerprinting system or have suspect metadata; an example of the latter would be the use of an existing artist name, which explains why these leaks typically don’t use artist’s official names. Though rudimentary, Soundrop’s vetting process is more extensive than some of their competitors’. Domer says, for example, that the fake song briefly uploaded to Kanye West’s Apple Music page last year should have been “super easy to catch.”