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A Mystery Composer Behind Fake Artists on Spotify Has Been Exposed

mystery composer exposed on Spotify

Photo Credit: Cartist

A mysterious composer who has been releasing music under hundreds of different artist names since at least 2017 has finally been exposed. Turns out—he’s Sweden’s most listened to artist.

Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN) unmasked Johan Röhr, a Stockholm-based musician who is behind more than 650 artists on the streaming service. Those artists have racked up cumulative plays of more than 15 billion streams—crowning him Sweden’s most-streamed artist in the process. By DN’s estimates, Röhr’s massive success on the platform places him above many of Spotify’s 100 most-streamed artists.

Using data from Chartmasters.org, Röhr is estimated to place around #64 on the top 100 most-streamed artists list—nestled below Avicii but above the Red Hot Chili Peppers. So how did this composer manage to amass so many streams?

Many of his songs appear on Spotify’s official instrumental playlists, which is curated by Spotify. These tracks include names like ‘peaceful piano’ and ‘stress relief’ and are intended as background music for people to listen to while engaged in other activities.

The 47-year-old told the newspaper he has created more than 2,700 songs on the platform under pseudonyms like ‘Maya Åström,’ ‘Minik Knudsen,’ ‘Mingmei Hsueh,’ and ‘Csizmazia Etel.’ This situation is one that critics have stated could happen, allowing a single artist to dominate the market instead of democratizing it for independent musicians, record companies, and other composers.

What the DN expose doesn’t reveal is how much those 15 billion+ streams have earned Röhr from Spotify over the years. However, his private company reportedly pulled in 32.7 million kronor ($3.13M) in 2022. Röhr has not responded to requests for comments, but his record label Overtone Studios called him a “pioneer in the mood music genre,” confirming that Röhr released music under multiple names.

“John Röhr was the first artist AP Records [now Overtone Studios] worked with,” Niklas Brantberg, CEO of Overtone Studios said in a statement. “Röhr published music across many different artist profiles and became a pioneer in the mood music space, which is hugely popular today. Many of these are now historical, inactive musical projects and we have already significantly reduced the number of artist profiles actively publishing music.”

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