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19% of Songs Have Modified Versions & SoundCloud Is the Leading Platform That Streams Them

Photo by Eduardo Cano Photo Co. / Unsplash

A recent report by Pex, a content identification platform, sheds light on the place of modified audio tracks across digital platforms. The findings indicate a significant portion of content, estimated at 19% of all identified tracks, has undergone modifications, diverting royalties away from original rightsholders.

Pex indexed publicly available content from over 20 digital platforms. "We tracked a sample of known songs from over 20 platforms to identify modified audio. We defined modified audio as any audio where the speed and/or pitch was changed by at least 1 percent and 1 cent respectively," the report says. Data collected from January 2023 through January 2024 revealed that hundreds of millions (an estimated 19% of all identified content) of modified audio tracks were distributed during this period.

Here’s the breakdown of modifications:

  • 18.9% of identified content had modified speed or pitch.
  • 18.0% of identified content had modified speed.
  • 11.4% of identified content had modified pitch.
  • 10.5% of identified content had modified speed and pitch.

The problem is that many of these modified tracks are not licensed, leading to a lack of proper attribution and royalties. Without adequate measures in place, creators of original content may not receive due credit or compensation for the use of their work.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Mixtape and DJ-centric platforms continue to be prominent for modified audio distribution, with SoundCloud being the leader followed by MixCloud and Audiomack. Last time, Audiomack took the number one spot with 68.30% in Q1 2023.
  • Likee and Audius have with nearly half of the identified content being altered. As per the report, "the addition of these two platforms knocks TikTok out of the top five and into the number six spot."
  • TikTok, however, witnessed a significant increase in modified audio too, surpassing other major platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
Credit: Pex

Besides, it's at times impossible to find those tracks manually without a specialised tool that can track them. "If we were trying to find modified audio by searching for keywords, we’d miss millions of songs or have to listen to every track to hear its speed and pitch. Just 0.16% of identified content contained 'sped up' or 'nightcore' in the title, and 0.11% had 'slowed', 'reverb', or 'slowed+reverb' in the title."

Read the full report here.