Leakers have been posting album after album lately, from Angel by “Fenty Fantasia,” which was supposed to contain leaked songs by Rihanna, to an album by “Queen Carter,” which claimed to be music by Beyoncé. The fake albums, which are often composed of bootlegs, demos, and outtakes, have made their way to the top of the charts time and time again.
According to Pitchfork, the streaming royalties don’t go to the artists, but rather to leakers and fakes. These leakers can make tens of thousands of dollars by using independent distribution companies like DistroKid and TuneCore to claim they own the rights to the music, cashing out via PayPal. In fact, one hacker who leaked Playboi Carti and Lil Uzi Vert tracks allegedly made more than $60,000 in streaming royalties.
— Consequence of Sound (@consequence) August 22, 2019
While representatives from Spotify, DistroKid, and TuneCore claim that the companies are frequently working to prevent unauthorized uploads, it may be difficult for independent distributors to have a strong security system in place. Improving security may require the distributors to pay more upfront, which would lead to a decrease in revenue when uploads are flagged as fake.
This means that, although artists lose out on money, all other parties appear to reap the royalty benefits.
Lead photo courtesy of Björn Engqvist.