“Wait a minute, that’s not Babyface” – Artist confusion abounds online

(February 15, 2019) This morning, as I anxiously perused my Release Radar, the weekly Spotify playlist that curates new releases based on my tastes and favorite artists, my brow became increasingly furrowed. The new song by Maysa appeared to be a Spanish opera, and the brand new cut “Y2K” by Babyface, was an odd electronic British rap song. So what’s up? Well, the quick answer is that that wasn’t Maysa or Babyface – or at least not the Maysa and Babyface that we know.

(February 15, 2019) This morning, as I anxiously perused my Release Radar, the weekly Spotify playlist that curates new releases based on my tastes and favorite artists, my brow became increasingly furrowed. The new song by Maysa appeared to be a Spanish opera, and the brand new cut “Y2K” by Babyface, was an odd electronic British rap song. So what’s up? Well, the quick answer is that that wasn’t Maysa or Babyface – or at least not the Maysa and Babyface that we know.

Back in the days of the corner record store, that kind of confusion rarely happened, but in the modern world of streaming, with literally thousands of new songs being uploaded onto platforms like Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal every week, confusion is the norm. So a young rapper who calls himself Babyface can put his music up on the site, and the automated systems don’t realize that this is definitely not  the Grammy winning Tender Lover. Consequently, not only does "Y2K" show up in my Release Radar, it shows up on Babyface’s Spotify artist page, leaving his fans scratching their heads, or maybe even complaining that 'Face's new music is awful. Putting aside any trademark issues (and I’m sure there are some), this is a mess for both the original artist and for the streaming service. And it can't help when figuring out who gets paid for the streams.

Unfortunately, this problem has become a weekly occurrence for classic R&B performers. In the past several weeks alone, we have seen new songs by Tavares, Kashif, Heatwave, Deniece Williams and more, all of which were not even remotely similar to the legendary artists.

The good news is that the streaming services know it is a problem, and they’re working to make it better. Spotify responded to our inquiry about this problem within an hour and sent us info on how artists can address this. For independent artists caught in this web, here are instructions to notify Spotify of an artist identification error. And this will hopefully happen less often in the future for artists using “preferred distributors,” where there is more thorough artist identification process. But it is still a nuisance today.

The big point to make is, if you’re a fan, and suddenly your favorite soul music crooner appears to now be releasing heavy metal, chances are they are caught in artist misidentification. The best thing you can do is to contact your artist via their website or tag them on social media to let them know, and include a link to this article or to the Spotify instructions above (we have not yet found the answer for Apple Music or Tidal). You’ll be doing both the artist and the streaming service a favor, and you’ll help to remove that quizzical look from that Heatwave fan who wonders when the classic R&B band started sounding like Migos.

By Chris Rizik

Thanks to Jay Gilbert for his help on this story

 
Featured Album - Rahsaan Patterson - Heroes & Gods
Featured Album - Lasperanza - "Seeds"
Featured Album - Nichelle Colvin - Welcome to Gary

Leave a comment!