Spotify accuses indie band of "streaming fraud" over 8-year-old song name

The Boston-based indie rockers Hallelujah the Hills (previously) has been around for nearly two decades at this point. Whatever notoriety the band may have gained in the time, it has very little to do with the seventh track from their 2016 album A Band Is Something To Figure Out — a song titled "Play It As It Loops."

"Play It As It Loops" was never released as a single. But eight years after its album release, the song has somehow earned the ire of the Spotify police:

(Screenshot via Hills frontman Ryan Walsh)

For some inextricable reason, "Play It As It Loops" has recently become one of the band's most popular songs, garnering a confounding number of plays on the popular streaming platform. The band even provided me with this screenshot:

Spotify's artist resource app generally offers some data about the source of song plays — but when it comes to "Play It As It Loops," there's no clear reason why it's getting plays. It hasn't been added to any playlists, or linked from anywhere. Presumably, listeners have just been, well, playing it as it loops.

Also presumably, the company has access to even more granular data, which it could use to figure out where the plays are coming from — like, for example, if people are just telling Alexa to "Play it as it loops," and that unintentionally confusing the smart speaker.

Instead, Spotify has accused Hallelujah the Hills of committing fraud, threatening to remove the band and song from the platform, and withhold their royalty payments. Naturally, the band explained its case, and reached out for more clarification … but more than a week later, Spotify still hasn't responded.

Copyright takedowns are one already-obnoxious crutch that streaming companies rely on to cover their asses, in a way that tends to do more to hurt independent artists. But baseless accusing a band of committing fraud, while withholding the evidence and ignoring that clear Murphy's Law case that might explain the situation? That might be even more absurd.

As a bonus irony, Walsh speculated about this exact scenario in a 2016 Vice article: