Over a Million “Manipulated” Versions of Copyrighted Tracks Found on Streaming Platforms

A recent study conducted by tech company Pex has uncovered more than a million “manipulated” versions of tracks on popular streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and TIDAL. These altered tracks, often lacking proper licensing, involve adjustments such as speeding up or slowing down the original content. Notable instances include Lady Gaga’s ‘Bloody Mary’ with 25 million streams and Childish Gambino’s ‘Heartbeat’ with 19 million streams.

Pex reports that these unauthorized versions may be engaging in music fraud, potentially depriving rightful copyright owners of “millions” in royalties. CEO Rasty Turek highlights that approximately 1% of all music shows some form of modified audio, and existing systems are insufficient in detecting these alterations. This misattribution affects artists’ compensation, as they may not receive proper payment for their work.

Turek emphasizes the responsibility of platforms and services to ensure accurate attribution, stating, “Proper attribution should be required, and this is much more up to the platforms and services than it is up to the artist to essentially go and fish out.” He acknowledges the legitimate demand for modified content but underscores the importance of maintaining proper licensing.

Here are some examples of modified songs that we easily identified, and that should have been checked for licenses before making it onto streaming platforms:

“Without Me” – Original recording by Halsey

  • Manipulated audio: “Without Me (Sped Up Version)” – modified version by Fly By Nightcore
  • 5,949,502 streams on Spotify as of 10/25/23

“Substance” – Original recording by Greedo

  • Manipulated audio: “Substance (Sped up) (Remix)” by DJ Fronteo
  • 10,526,244 streams on Spotify as of 10/25/23

“Something Just Like This” – Original recording by The Chainsmokers and Coldplay

  • Manipulated audio: “Something Just Like This” – modified version by Fly By Nightcore
  • 12,412,976 streams on Spotify as of 10/25/23

“Tere Te” – Original recording by AP Dhillon and Gurinder Gill

  • Manipulated audio: “Tere Te – Slowed & Reverb” – modified version by Kaushal Shekhawat
  • 2,203,385 streams on Spotify as of 10/25/23

This comes after Spotify‘s recent changes to its royalties structure, intending to pay less to less-popular artists. The streaming giant plans to raise the threshold for royalty payments to 1000 plays per track, potentially affecting the monetization of tracks that previously received 0.5% of Spotify’s royalty pool.