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Vancouver Musician's Lost Song Highlights Rising Streaming Fraud Concerns

Reports state that fake song versions on music streaming apps cost $2 billion annually.
Cover Image Source: Facebook | Paula M. Toledo
Cover Image Source: Facebook | Paula M. Toledo

The recent incident concerning musician Paula Toledo and her rediscovered track, "How Long Will It Take," has brought attention to the issue of modern music streaming fraud. The unpublished song had mysteriously appeared on unauthorized Russian DVDs, gradually amassing a modest yet devoted fan base over time. The intrigue surrounding the song's origin captivated online communities, particularly Reddit, where enthusiasts tirelessly worked to uncover the singer's identity. 

Image Source: Facebook  | Paula M. Toledo
Image Source: Facebook | Paula M. Toledo

Embracing the unexpected resurgence of "How Long," Toledo decided to share her music with the world by uploading it to Bandcamp, with proceeds earmarked for charity. However, things took an unexpected turn when a counterfeit version of her song surfaced on major streaming platforms, with the cover featuring a teddy bear.

"It's not lost on me that the song was pirated and it was placed in a Russian bootleg DVD … Then it was found and literally weeks after it got pirated again," Toledo said.

This bogus rendition not only confused listeners but also led to the singer's authentic version being removed from streaming services. Suspecting foul play, Toledo voiced concerns over what she believes to be a case of streaming fraud, a phenomenon increasingly plaguing artists, distributors, and platforms alike.


Andrew Batey, co-CEO of Beatdapp, a Vancouver-based company specializing in fraud detection for streaming services, sheds light on the modus operandi of such schemes. According to him, fraudsters exploit digital music distribution services to upload counterfeit tracks, often employing bots to inflate streaming numbers and siphon royalties. These fraudulent uploads may include anything from nonsensical sounds to stolen music from legitimate artists.

"So they make fake labels ... they get music from various places, and they put music on the streaming platforms pretending to be artists," he stated. 


The ramifications of streaming fraud extend beyond financial losses for artists like Toledo. It distorts the royalty pool, impacting both big-name and independent musicians. Batey estimates that billions of dollars are lost annually due to such activities, with a significant portion flying under the radar.

Despite efforts by platforms like Spotify to combat artificial streaming, the problem persists, posing challenges for artists navigating an already complex industry. The streaming platform claims to invest heavily in detecting and addressing stream manipulation, but the issue persists, affecting artists at various stages of their careers.

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Toledo's experience highlights the need for greater safeguards within the music industry to protect artists from exploitation. While her focus is on creating music and fostering community, the ordeal surrounding "How Long Will It Take" remains.

As technology continues to reshape the entertainment industry, collaborative efforts between artists and innovative solutions like those offered by Beatdapp are important in safeguarding the integrity of artists' work. In the face of adversity, Toledo remains resolute in her commitment to her craft, eager to overcome the hurdles imposed by streaming fraud and continue sharing her music with the world. 

Only through collective action and unwavering advocacy can the music ecosystem evolve into a fair and equitable space for creators to thrive.