Firefly Entertainment from Sweden must be one of the most successful young independent record companies in the world.
Headquartered in Karlstad, Sweden, the label generates over 65 million SEK – or around 7 million US dollars annual exchange rates – per year, according to the latest annual results published in 2020.
That’s 10 times what Firefly generated three years earlier.
These statistics come from the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN)what has Just do an exposé how Firefly makes at least some of that money. It’s a story that will be very familiar longtime MBW readers.
Accordingly DNFirefly Entertainment makes a roaring trade in what some would call “fake artists”. Spotify.
These are the now-familiar pseudonymous artists on the streaming platform – artists with no discernible online footprint – whose music fills many of Spotify’s own key mood and chillout playlists.
Music industry figures have long wondered aloud whether Spotify has agreements in place that would allow it to pay less royalties on music streams from “fake artists” — whose cumulative streams now number in the billions — than streams from artists signed to majors stand record companies.
In his report (available here) DN obtained a list of 830 “fake artist names” associated with Firefly and discovered that at least 495 of those artists have music on first-party Spotify playlists.
That number likely underestimates the breadth of Firefly’s artists on Spotify-run playlists, suggests DNsince the newspaper only published 100 playlists out of “several thousand [playlists] for which Spotify is responsible”.
DN also discovered – via the registry of Swedish publisher STIM – that music by over 500 of these “fake artists” was created by just 20 songwriters. The publication says it even found a composer who is the creator of songs for no fewer than 62 fake artists on Spotify; His music currently attracts 7.7 million listeners to the service each month.
Accordingly his websiteFounded in 2010, Firefly Entertainment boasts a “growing catalog of over 7,000 titles [with] over 5 billion streams worldwide”.
DN raises questions in his report about the frequency with which Firefly’s music ends up on major Spotify playlists – and the fact that the label’s management reportedly has “close personal ties to a former Spotify executive”. DN Names like Nick Holmstén.
DN reports that Holmstén has a “close personal relationship” with one of Firefly’s founders.
Holmstén joined Spotify when the company acquired its music discovery startup Tunigo in 2013. He then became Spotify’s Head of Music with ultimate responsibility for Spotify’s playlist strategy. Holmsten left Spotify in 2019.
As answer to DNs Story, Firefly CEO Peter Classon said in a statement: “There is no direct relationship with Spotify or otherwise that could affect the playlists. As for the number of songs in Spotify’s playlists, we refer to Spotify, which controls the process of how songs get into the playlists.
“And we also want to strongly deny that any association with Nick Holmstén, who left Spotify in 2019, would affect our business.”
In January fireflies announced that it had become one of the partners and investors of TSX Entertainment in New York.
TSX is Nick Holmstén’s new music project, set to launch in Times Square later this year dubbed the “Disneyland of Music”.
That’s not the only big news to come out of the Nordics over the past few days that has reignited the “fake artist” debate on Spotify.
Another Swedish newspaper, Svenska Dagbladet (SVD), reported on Sunday (March 27) that one of the most successful composers of “fake artist” music to appear on Spotify’s Mood and Chillout playlists is Christer Sandelin – formerly a member of the groups Style and Freestyle.
Today Sandelin runs a label called Chillmiwhich specializes in – you guessed it – chillout music from fictional artists with no discernible online footprint.
SvD reports (translated): “On Spotify alone, Chillmi’s 2,500 songs now total more than 2.5 billion streams, or an average of 1 million streams per song.”
Could all of those 2,500 tracks have been created by one man?
Sandelin’s company, which owns Chillmi, has had annual sales of between 5 million SEK (around 540,000 USD) and 16 million SEK (around 1.7 million USD) over the past five years, reports SvD.
But here it is Yes, really big news.
Guess how Christer Sandelin, a pioneer of “fake artist-ry” on Spotify playlists, got into this lucrative game in the first place?
In fact, SvD reports that in 2015 Sandelin was first – directly – commissioned by Spotify to produce instrumental music for its chillout playlists.
The newspaper continues to report (translated): “These tracks soon began appearing in playlists [designed] be in the background while studying, meditating – or sleeping.”
If this is true, then this is extensively verified this groundbreaking story by MBW – on Spotify, which is experimenting with directly commissioning “fake artists” – which we released back in 2016 and based on ours very solid sources in Scandinavia.
Spotify afterwards publicly denied MBW’s story was accurate and it attempted to discredit our reporting of his shenanigans to the global music industry.
To everyone who believed the folks at Spotify who made this attempt at discrediting – just to save their own asses from public listing – today we dedicate this: a wonderful track by a Swedish artist that’s not fake at all.
music business worldwide
https://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/remember-spotify-fake-artist-theyre-still-going-strong-and-still-attracting-scandal/ Remember Spotify’s Fake Artists? They’re still going strong – and still attracting scandals.