The Cheater’s Guide to Spotify

Why Spotify Has So Many Bizarre, Generic Artists Like ‘White Noise Baby Sleep’

The platform is filled with search-optimized spammers, and there’s no end in sight

Peter Slattery
OneZero
Published in
8 min readSep 22, 2020

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Photo illustration sources: Kevin Liu; Kilito Chan; Thanapol Kuptanisakorn; EyeEm/Getty Images

Welcome to The Cheater’s Guide to Spotify, a series about the schemes that rack up streams, money, and infamy on the popular streaming service.

You’ve probably never heard of them, but Relaxing Music Therapy has had a pretty damn successful music career. At least, on Spotify.

This “artist” has more than 500,000 monthly listeners on the platform, all thanks to One Simple Trick: optimizing their name to show up prominently in Spotify’s search results.

Spotify is full of “artists” like this: Pro Sound Effects Library, On Hold Music, Yoga, Jazz Music Therapy for Cats, and Natural White Noise Best Nature Sounds for Sleeping, Stress Relief, Relaxation, Sound Therapy.

While the platform pays only in the neighborhood of a third of a penny per stream if you’re not Drake, it boasts more than a quarter-billion active users. So, if your music ranks highly for a search term, you can accumulate enough listens to steadily make hundreds, in some cases thousands, of dollars a month with minimal effort.

The key to success is to find a phony artist name that Spotify users are likely to type into search. Like Relaxing Music Therapy, some of these “artists” use names inspired by an adjective commonly used to describe music. Others name themselves after popular uses for certain kinds of music, well-known generic tunes like children’s rhymes, or entire music genres. Often, these creators optimize further by titling tracks and albums with related words and reuploading the same songs ad nauseum, which can look especially absurd when filtering to see just a single tune. Relaxing Music Therapy, for instance, has uploaded the track “Stream in the Forest With Rain” 616 times to date.

SEO spam and its various streambait cousins fit right in with Spotify’s own marketing strategy of being a…

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