While the exact number is debatable, in what has now become an infamous statistic, at minimum music streaming services (“DSPs”) are absorbing tens of thousands of new songs every day.

At such a scale, metadata becomes a very sensitive topic; DSPs, at the mercy of the quality of information provided to them, are sorting through an almost unmanageable wave of data.

Overlapping metadata records abound, with music by two or more artists of the same name often grouped together on the same artist page, creating a difficult task (for both rights holders and DSPs) to share individual artists’ catalogs after the fact.

(This author is very familiar with the subject, having managed an artist whose electronic instrumental music at one time shared DSP profiles, at once, with a French rapper, a Uruguayan reggaeton remix artist, and a house producer with based in Washington, DC.)

In response to this growing issue, Spotify, for example, has unveiled a dedication Content Inconsistency tool through its Spotify For Artists platform – imagine thousands of artists and rights holders using it every day.

In general, these issues of metadata distribution – having one’s music on another artist’s site or vice versa – are accidents and perhaps inevitable consequences of the glut of music being pushed into the retail market 24/7.

But what if tagging the wrong artist pages wasn’t just a headache to solve, but also a money-making scheme?

What if unknown artists benefited intentionally tagging big-name artists as key collaborators, thereby reaching said artists’ fan base through algorithmic music distribution systems like Spotify’s Release Radar?

This is the story of an artist/record label, otherwise known as Diversify AND Different.

This author was first alerted to Diversity/Variegate’s unusual practices after having his releases served up, again and again, by Spotify’s custom algorithmic equivalent of New Music Friday: Release Radar.

Diversify is an artistic project that counts over 100,000 monthly listeners. He also appears to be the owner behind a shadowy operation of several “labels” and artists whose Spotify (P) lines (representing record ownership) are alternately known as Diversify Entertainment Services, Veganism Records, “Diversify Record”. Association, Dream Records, Variegate Records and Variegate Entertainment – the list goes on.

The Diversify biog page on Spotify offers far more questions than answers.

The company’s catalog, musically, is objectively a disjointed mess, with songs ranging from EDM-meets-pop ballads to hip-hop songs with lyrics that are blatant parodies. There is no unifying performer or theme; instead, dozens of different female and male singers are repeated throughout (perhaps sourced from fiverr or a similar independent hiring platform?); vocal performers sometimes change abruptly in the middle of the same song.

One song in particular – judge its sonic merits for yourself – called “ROYAL SALTreleased earlier this year, it even seems to bill itself as a sketchy money-making operation: “Kripp pays, Ninja kripp pays, I buy airs without real shows,” as one line says (1:22).

Variegate, ostensibly a second alias for Diversify—both sites share recurring motifs and characters, as well as the odd, very corporate-sounding “this song is dedicated to Diversify” tagline—offers an even stranger plot twist.

Variegate’s Spotify bio reads simply, “youtuber.” A quick search revealed that his YouTube channel – which links to Variegate’s DSP pages – is, amazingly, an e-commerce self-help advice channel whose bio reads “Variegate is a financial channel. Founded in 2021, Variegate has made a lasting impact on the contemporary dropshipping culture and lifestyle. The channel hopes to expand the content to other pursuits.”

A cursory search through Diversify and Variegate’s Related Spotify Artists quickly reveals a network of artists who collaborate and release under the Diversify/Variegate banner, including Lukas Stevens, Susanne DavisAND Harper Ask. Each of these artists have relatively small followings, but close to or more than 100,000 monthly listeners.

Apparently, all of these Diversify/Variegate artists also use a tactic that’s repeated so often it seems impossible not to be on purpose: tagging popular artists (each with millions of monthly listeners on Spotify) as top artists on their publications. . Some popular and independent artists that appear more often: Aries, mike., Yeek, Ashe and WEISS, among others.

Needless to say, in none of these cases were such artists actually featured – or even sampled (legally or otherwise) – on the tracks.

This author’s release radar has had dozens of releases from Diversify/Variety and co, many within the top few playlist spots, and including a new one—I’m not making this up—that came out the very day this article was written.

In addition, Diversify has been algorithmically given its own official “This Is” playlist on Spotify, which appears to feature a who’s who of those misnamed artists among its millions of monthly listeners:

This is not a Spotify-specific issue – what appears to be a deliberate mistake by Diversify and Variegate extends to all other DSPs as well.

Details are scarce about Diversify and the identity of its owner.

His cantalogue’s metadata seems deliberately vague: John Smith is listed as the sole songwriter for most releases, and where other songwriters appear, they appear to be false collaborators (including eg “Yeekus Steinberg” , for which Google , Facebook , and other searches return no results. If this is a fake name as suspected, it may even be a means of justifying the tagging of the popular independent artist Yeek.)

Diversify did not respond to a request for comment prior to publication of this piece.

To be clear, this piece isn’t meant to pick on Spotify — quite the opposite, as its platform and more detailed data were the only means by which to tie this potentially clever scam thread together.

Spotify For Artists – which allows one to compare one’s own artist’s stats with those of others on the platform – reveals that virtually all of Diversify’s streams (as well as those of Variegate, Lukas Stevens and the label’s full roster) come from effect Release Radar. with a peak of up to 100,000 daily streams on Fridays (when the algorithmic playlist is published, each week) before cratering by mid-week (as editorial and organic streams are seemingly close to zero):

Whoever is responsible for the Diversify wallet – whose name itself seems like an inside joke about the project’s purpose as an additional form of income – certainly recognizes the opportunity to exploit weak metadata protection. On “The GRIND,” ​​they rap, “Get paid by the streams… turned addiction into business.” And on King of the Sheets, they say, “Diversify your f*ckin’ beats.”

One specific collaborator this author has found is pre-teen rapper YNR Nervy, who appears on Diversify’s latest album, For the fansin the song “Real Kripps”:

Ultimately one suspects that DSPs will eventually provide a widespread form of “profile locking” that prevents fake uploads. But until then, highly inventive “artists” can drive millions of streams—conservatively earning tens of thousands of dollars each—by distributing songs with deliberately inaccurate metadata.The worldwide music business

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