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Music removed from Spotify? Who's at Fault? Distrokid? Spotify? You? The Truth Regarding Spotify Marketing Campaigns!

HINT... It's all lies. Let's shed light on the truth, but first... why should you take our word for it? We provide Spotify marketing campaigns to some of the world's biggest music marketing companies and record labels, working with major label artists, household names, and up and coming artists, every single day. As a result, we work very closely on Spotify (not affiliated or endorsed), and have experienced many of the issues you have faced as well. In dealing with all the BS, we have spoke to direct contacts at Spotify, as well as at major distributors to figure out once and for all what is actually going on.

The result? YOU HAVE BEEN LIED TO!




Let's break it down... Artists spend countless hours, and upwards of tens of thousands of dollars to write, record, produce and release music, so how is it that your song worthy of a Grammy can simply be plucked off Spotify, for no reason, no warning or without any explanation? Are you at fault?

Is Spotify the issue? Maybe your distributor (such as Distrokid, CD Baby, TuneCore) is the culprit?


What if we told you that everything you have been told is a lie?


In this blog post, we'll delve into the complexities of why songs are removed from Spotify, dispelling common myths and shedding light on the true orchestrators behind the scenes.


The Detection of Artificial Streaming


Artificial streaming... we all know what it is, but is it real?


Well obviously it's not real people listening to your music , but is "artificial streaming" as a whole, made up?


Kind of - Allow us to explain.


Are there botted playlists? Absolutely. But... are real listeners also being categorized as bots too? Yes.


Wait, what?


That's right! Spotify's algorithm to detect real listenings, genuinely grooving to your music, from bots doing nothing but streaming it, to get you banned, is awful, straight up awful (we'll get more into this later on in the blog).


Spotify's detection tools cannot tell what is real, and what is fake, but do they remove your music when they detect artificial streaming? Nope (more on this later too).


Let us rephrase that... SPOTIFY DOES NOT REMOVE YOUR MUSIC WHEN ARTIFICIAL STREAMING HAS BEEN DETECTED (they can remove for other reasons, ie. copyright infringement). Not only that... Spotify does not issue you any warnings.


But wait... I've received a strike?


Nope, not from Spotify.


This is where distributors like DistroKid, CD Baby & TuneCore come into play.


Each distributor has their own policy. Distrokid's for example is a "3 strike policy." So here's what happens... Spotify will notifiy your distributor that artificial streaming has been detected. That is all Spotify does. The rest is up to what the distributor would like to do about it. Going back to Distrokid, they will provide you a "strike" looking like the below picture.

Notification from Distrokid regarding first strike
Distrokid's first strike notification

Here's the misconception about this "strike". Distrokid makes it seem like the strike is from Spotify, by saying... "This is your first strike from Spotify", when in reality, this has nothing to do with Spotify, it's Distrokid's policy.


Spotify explaining Distrokid's 3 strike policy has nothing to do with Spotify
Spotify explaining Distrokid's 3 strike policy has nothing to do with Spotify

By why would Distrokid say it's from Spotify? Maybe to direct attention off of them?

Regardless of why... is Distrokid's 3 strike policy a bad thing?


At first glance, it seems like an awesome idea. Imagine being added to a botted playlist, for no wrongdoing of your own. Now imagine being fined, or having your music taken down because of that? That would suck.

So a policy like Distrokid's 3 strike one is actually good, as it gives you a few chances to...

  1. Switch up the promotion you're doing in case you went with a illegitimate service

  2. Gives you a chance to report the playlist in which the botted streams came from


Or should I say... it would be good in a perfect world...


Spotify mentioned that they would fine distributors if 90% or more of a song was artificially streamed (or streamed by practices that violate Spotify's terms of service), right?


Well... Spotify says they're not doing that...


Spotify saying they do not fine distributors
Spotify saying they do not fine distributors

Strange, right? We have no reason not to believe them however, because it's coming straight from the horses mouth, and... distributors are their customers. Without them, Spotify would not have music on its platform, and therefore not be the powerhouse it is.


But wait... Distrokid said that you will need to pay "Spotify's fine of $10", so is that made up? Is this nothing but a predatory practice to earn Distrokid more money?


Distrokid's third strike notification
Distrokid's third strike notification

Why should we not believe that? Distrokid says it's Spotify's policy, but Spotify denies it.

Why would Distrokid being doing that though? Sure it could make them some more money, but it could also ruin their reputation.


Well... let's read between the lines, and not jump to conclusions. Spotify is saying they do not fine distributors, and Distrokid is saying it's "Spotify's fine", so what is it? Both companies may very well be telling the truth.


For example...

Spotify may not fine distributors, but rather artists.

Distrokid may not be fined, but rather passing that fine from Spotify to the artists. Well no... Spotify says that's not the case either...


Spotify claiming they do not fine artists
Spotify claiming they do not fine artists

But wait... you see as indicated by Spotify itself... Spotify may withhold royalties, or apply a fee to your content, which would be fined to your distributor and passed onto yourself.


Chat from Spotify mentioned that Spotify may withhold royalties if artificial streaming is detected.
Chat from Spotify mentioned that Spotify may withhold royalties if artificial streaming is detected.

Well hold up, what is the fee?


I guess we'll never know. When we pushed them for answer all they replied with were automated messages, saying... "Spotify has no knowledge of the agreements that artists sign with their distributors so we can't investigate individual cases. Your distributor should be able to reach out to our Royalties Reporting team if they have any questions about any royalties or reporting they receive from Spotify."


So maybe the fine is not so much a fine, but rather reduction of royalties, which would really just be a fine...? When we tried to ask for clarification, we were prompted with...

Spotify live chat unavailable
Spotify live chat unavailable

Being persistent, we chatted back, and after more standard replies that gave no information, we received this message...


Spotify chat not able to help
Spotify chat not able to help

In other words.. they won't say. Seems sus.


To summarize... any "strike", "flag", or warning is from your distributor, not Spotify, and the fine which you may have to pay is... well... who knows where it originates from?

More importantly, any removal in regards to artificial streaming is from your distributor, not Spotify.


Chat with Spotify for Artists, showing that the distributor has the final decision to remove songs or not
Chat with Spotify for Artists, showing that the distributor has the final decision to remove songs or not

Wait, wait wait... my song was removed, but I didn't have to pay $10, nor did I receive any strikes, why is that?


Distrokid notification after music has been removed from Spotify
Distrokid notification after music has been removed from Spotify

Unraveling the 'Why' Behind Removals WITHOUT Warning

There's continually more and more songs being removed from Spotify without any warning from their distributor (or "strike" for those that use Distrokid as their Distributor). Please see some (of many) results collected from Reddit and review sites, of artists claiming the same thing... the removal of their songs on Spotify and other DSPs, without warning. It's probably happened to you too, since you're reading this blog...


Distrokid online review
Online review #1
Distrokid online review
Online review #2
Distrokid online review
Online review #3
Distrokid online review
Online review #4
Distrokid online review
Online review #5

WHY THOUGH? Why is this happening?


It goes back to what was mentioned earlier... Spotify's algorithm is awful at detecting what is streamed genuinely be real people, and what is botted. As a result, legitimately streamed music is getting detected by Spotify's detection tool for artificial streaming practices. How do you know this?


We only use Spotify's own ads platform, yet... there have been cases where it says our songs have been streamed 97% by artificial streaming practices, when Spotify's report (directly from Spotify ads studio) reports EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE STREAMS... so not one stream is unaccounted for...


So how on earth could it have received 97% streams from artifical sources? The answer... It could not have.

However, due to the high percentage that is claimed to be from artificial sources, the song was removed... but why are some songs removed without warning, and some are given warnings from the distributor through "strikes" or "flags"?


While we can speculate and say it makes the distributor more money, as they no longer need to pay out royalties on it, that is not a fair accusation to make with the data we have.


For all we know... the distributor may have "ate" fines for you, before it was removed.


So... the biggest reason as to why removals just happen out of thin air, without warning... is... because... you tell us!


If you have information, please message us on Instagram @musicianguidance.


What to Do When Your Song Fades Away

For artists facing the silence of removal, there's a glimmer of hope, but only if you go with a trusted Spotify marketing platform like Musician Guidance.

You see... removals and "strikes" can be overturned. Spotify's detection software quite regularly falsely detects real streams as artificial, however, not having proof to present to Spotify to indeed show that the streams are real, will mean you're not able to get the decision overturned. Musician Guidance exclusively uses Spotify ads studio, and thus, shall any issue arise, whether from Spotify or the distributor, the report (directly from Spotify ads studio) will overturn the issue.


But wait... is our service legit, because Distrokid says that everything is bad...


Distrokid notification explaining strike
Distrokid notification explaining strike

We've defended Distrokid a bit in this blog, but this is something that is completely not true by Distrokid, stating that... "any service that promises to promote your music on Spotify is a scam."


If that was the case... using Spotify's own ads platform would also be a scam... So why is Distrokid saying that? There has to be a reason, and there is... it protects them. You know what one of Distrokid's solutions is? To re-upload the song. Why? Some sources believe it is so there is no trace of the original. This would protect Distrokid from any potential fine, or backlash from Spotify, if the artist did engage in illegitmate promotion.


A more likely solution however, is based on the notion that Distrokid releases around 50,000 songs a day to digital streaming platforms, and having to review all claims from artists regarding the promotion they received would mean that Distrokid would have to hire more people, and thus, raise their prices. This could result in a drop of market share and revenue for the distribution giant.


What happens when you re-upload a song? If you upload your music with the same ISRC code, here is exactly what happens...


You'll re-upload it, and it will be grayed out on Spotify for between a couple days and a week. Why though? I just re-uploaded it, so why is not up and released to my audience? Well.. it needs to be reviewed and verified. Spotify will review the streams on the release and remove ones that it strongly believes to be botted (the most extreme case we're aware of is 40% of the streams were removed).


40%, while not the majority is a massive amount, and that's not to say that it couldn't be more.


So... to recap, if you go with a trusted Spotify marketing company like Musician Guidance that only uses Spotify's own promotional tools, reports from Spotify will be provided. As a result, 100% of the streams garnered from our campaigns will always be restored, shall an issue ever arise.


You will not ever have to worry about only a fraction being restored, and you certainly will not have to worry about any long-term and/or permanent repercussions.

If you have any questions, or information, please message us at info@musicianguidance.com, or message us on Instagram @musicianguidance.

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