If a song is created by artificial intelligence and intercepted by a bot, was it even heard? This is a problem music streaming companies are now facing as generative AI makes it increasingly easy for anyone to produce songs with a few clicks and then send bots to stream them for cash.
“It’s a sluice,” says Tony Rigg, Lecturer in Music Industry Management at the University of Central Lancashire in the UK. He talks about the arrival of AI-generated music. And this deluge of new music is compounding the problem of fake listening, giving people an easy way to get streams of low-quality tracks.
Artificial streaming or bot listening is nothing new. Some turn to third-party companies that promise to boost streams, and then recruit bot-created accounts to listen to the same playlists repeatedly. That’s a problem because streaming companies split royalties from a finite pool of money — the more times a song is played, the more its creator makes. So spending more money on songs listened to by bots may mean less being sent to those who have human fans. Human artists are already involved in this artificial streaming scandalsbut AI adds a new element.
The first major test case happened last week when Spotify reportedly removed tens of thousands of songs created by AI music generator Boomy, created and uploaded to Spotify. These accounted for only a small percentage of all Boomy creations, but included songs suspected of being streamed by bots, they said Financial Times. Spotify didn’t respond to a request for comment to confirm the removal, but the platform did guidelines against fake streaming.
Boomy uploads on Spotify were paused last week, but resumed May 6th. Alex Mitchell, CEO and founder of Boomy, says the company is “categorically opposed to any form of tampering or artificial streaming.” Mitchell also says Boomy has a system in place to respond to suspicious streaming notifications from streaming companies and freeze payments and block users who may be tampering with the system for profit. But countless artificial listeners managed to get through before being caught, showing just how widespread these scams have become.
fake streaming is an industry-wide problem that goes beyond AI-made music. A learn The French Center National de la Musique, a public-private organization focused on the French music industry, has found that between 1 and 3 percent of all music streamed across various popular platforms in France in 2021 was proven to have been streamed by bots. An estimated 1 to 3 billion fake streams.
The competition for listeners is fierce. There are more than 100 million songs apple music, Amazon MusicAnd Spotify, and many are rarely, if ever, played. Given the rapid advances in generative AI a flood of new songs are expected to appear on streaming platforms.
And like so much in generative AI, it’s fast. Last month a song faking the voices of Drake and The Weeknd went viral and was booted by Spotify. As the technology becomes more persuasive, the imitations fool more and more people. Supposedly scammers used AI to generate new tracks Frank Ocean’s voiceand sold them to fans for thousands of dollars and lured people with promises of releasing leaked songs.