It has long been known that artists and record labels can buy fake listens on Spotify and other streaming services. It brings more revenue and more attention to the artist. Now the business is linked to gang crime.


An anonymous police officer at Noa (the police's national operations department) tells Svenska Dagbladet that he wanted to warn Spotify that the streaming service had become a tool for criminals, but that no one from the company called back.

"Spotify has become an ATM for them (the gangs). There is a direct link to the gangs and therefore also to the deadly violence, says the police at Noa.

Criminals are reportedly using criminal money to buy cryptocurrency, such as bitcoin. The money then goes on to people who can manipulate Spotify's fake accounts to get the listening of a particular artist up.

"You don't do this if you want to wash a hundred salmon, because then you lose too much along the way. But if you want to wash some rabbits (millions), that's obviously fine, says a gang criminal to SvD.


The profit is double: Spotify pays out white money as compensation for the listens and the artist rushes up the charts and can thus break through "for real".

"I don't want to sell people out, this is very sensitive. It's about more than buying streams. If you're networking and want to attract kids and you have a rapper that's getting big, then do half the work for you. It's thick good for recruitment purposes, says the criminal to SvD.

To SVT, a spokesperson for Spotify writes that the company "works hard to combat manipulated streams", and states that the SvD review is based on incorrect information:

"We have no knowledge that the police have contacted Spotify regarding the claims Svenska Dagbladet writes about, nor have our internal teams discovered or received data or concrete evidence indicating that our platform is used to any great extent in the way described in the article."