Updated: December 12
In a recent Reddit discovery, metal music fans stumbled upon a peculiar thing on Spotify's "Trending for You" section — a bunch of albums by seemingly unknown artists, raising suspicions that the albums haven't actually been made by human artists.
In the enormous genre diversity of Spotify, where metal stands as one of the most diverse and dynamic ones, a new player has entered the stage—or rather, a multitude of new players, all looking...well, suspicious. The signs these "artists" have in common are hard to ignore: unfamiliar musicians (we can assume they're simply new in the game but there's more to note), a conspicuous absence of online presence, and a distinctive lack of information on Google about their albums or themselves. What's more, as one Redditor points out, their album cover art and font choices are rather strange for typical metal artists to pick. Not that we're prejudiced.
Another peculiarity is that all albums were released in the same year (in the spring of 2023, to be more specific), and the copyright holders were listed as the individual artists themselves, not record labels.
But it's not just the metadata that's raising suspicion; it's the music itself.
Here are a few of the allegedly AI-generated metal albums:
Kill the DJ googled the names from the album quite a bit and found that "Spencer Melville" is also on SoundCloud with three tracks from the same album we embedded above, zero followers, and zero following. Each track has four streams.
The same goes for another musician who worked on this album, Godfery Christ (what a name, though!).
Werner Jennings, however, is a "musical artist," according to Google, who released only one album. Yes, the one you see above. One of the tracks from this album is uploaded on YouTube, but the comments are, sadly, off.
The track is uploaded by the channel with a bright name, "Various Artists - Topic," which is an auto-generated channel made by YouTube in order "to collect trending and popular videos by topic."
The channel has an extensive followership with almost 300k followers and 118k uploaded videos, but each track gains at most 200 views. All the videos were uploaded to the channel this year.
Heading over to the Videos tab shows you this:
But there's more. An unusual consistency in the number of streams per song across the albums raised questions about the authenticity of the plays. One Redditor noted, "The number of streams is order of magnitudes higher than the number of monthly listeners."
As for the second album here, the story is quite the same: the album is uploaded to all streaming services in April 2023, no decent source ever reports about the musicians who recorded this album, and no social media profiles associated with their names whatsoever.
Lavinia Reyna's album was also uploaded to the same YouTube channel called "Various Artists - Topic" in May.
This album's creator has even less information.
"If you check the 'related artists' page you'll also see tens of more artists that are clearly generated," adds the Redditor.
Updated: Our editorial team has got an email from our reader who says they've come across one of the artists we're mentioning here, Corey Ingersoll, in their recommended Spotify playlists. They noticed straight away that two of the songs on the "My Life Story" album were recordings stolen from another artist and slightly slowed/pitched down:
- "Trail of Dudes" is just The Optionals' "(And You'll Know Her by the) Trail of Dudes":
- "My Life Story" is The Optionals' "Slurring My Life Story":
"There's no credit pointing back to the real songwriters on those tracks, and the recordings sound like they're the exact original recordings slowed down, rather than cover versions," our reader says. "I'm not sure if there are other plagiarised tracks on that album or from any of the other artists mentioned in the article, these two were the only songs I recognised.
"I reached out to The Optionals on Facebook to ask/tell them about this, and they told me that they're already aware of the theft and have already reached out to the various platforms hosting the tracks. I suspect that Corey Ingersoll showed up in my Spotify recommendations in the first place because other people had noticed this and were going back and forth between listening to Corey and The Optionals, making Spotify think that they have a shared fanbase," our reader adds in the email.
Beyond the metal genre, users uncovered a network of related artists spanning various genres, including an artist singing in Finnish.
These are just a few examples, but we're sure the "artists" like this are countless on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, YouTube, SoundCloud, and other platforms.
Despite lacking the nuances of human expression, these songs seem to have tricked the Spotify algorithm to an impressive degree. Or Spotify simply doesn't care.
Indeed, it's a noteworthy case, especially considering that Spotify recently rolled out updates to its royalty scheme, some of which were aimed at fighting obscure or illegitimate artists. Even though Spotify has recently stated that they don't outright remove AI-generated tracks from the platform, the situation remains peculiar.