Music

Sped-Up, Slowed-Down & Nowhere to Be Found: Why Artists Are Moving TikTok-Friendly Remixes Off Their Spotify Pages

Not long after Artist Partner Group (APG) signed Odetari — who specializes in glitchy, racing electronic tracks — last year, the label set up a second Spotify profile for him. Odetari “frequently has two to three different versions of records coming out a month,” explains Corey Calder, svp of marketing and creative services at APG. “If we were to have that all sit on his page, it would feel cluttered and make it hard for his fanbase to follow and track it all.”

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This means that “HYPNOTIC DATA – Slowed & Reverbed” and “GMFU – Sped Up” live on a Spotify page called ODECORE, while the original hits will be found by anyone scrolling through Odetari’s own Spotify profile. And this split artist identity is part of a growing trend where acts keep one Spotify account for “official” releases, plus a side account for alternate versions. 

Odetari’s labelmate 6arelyhuman puts remixes on Spotify under the name Sassy Scene. A Spotify account named Mei Mei The Bunny has only uploaded sped-up versions of Laufey singles, four to date. Mark Ambor has a breakout hit in “Belong Together;” his team uploaded the sped-up remix to Spotify through a separate account titled Lucky Socks. 

Even just a few years ago, creating alternate Spotify accounts for alternate versions of hit singles would’ve seemed wildly unnecessary. But user remixes and edits have proliferated and become popular soundtracks on short-form video platforms like TikTok. 

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Listeners often don’t care whether the “slowed and reverbed” sound they find on streaming is an official version generating income for the artist they like or a random upload — they just want to play the track that’s stuck in their head. As a result, labels adjusted by starting to release their own alternate reworks to satisfy this portion of the population. If they’re going to stream “Belong Together (Sped Up)” anyway, it might as well be a version that makes money for Ambor.

The streaming service Audiomack found that uploads of “manipulated songs” by labels — official tracks sped and slowed, pitched up and down, muffled and reverbed — shot up at the end of 2022. The number of these releases has continued to rise rapidly ever since, climbing from under 1,000 a quarter to around 6,000 a quarter.

These remixes can thrive in their own streaming ecosystems. Universal Music Group launched a Spotify account called Speed Radio that only posted sped-up versions of label releases; sped up nightcore did the same for singles from Warner Music Group. 

The goal was “to create another mechanism for growth and a new algorithmic pocket on streaming services that helps increase visibility and discovery,” says Nima Nasseri, a former UMG executive whose role involved helping the company market user-generated remixes. As these Spotify pages amassed followers who enjoyed sped-up audio, they allowed new remixes to reach a larger audience by standing on the shoulders of their predecessors. 

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Some remix-focused side accounts exhibit clear links back to the mothership in a way that also helps drive awareness of the main artist project — ODECORE and Sassy Scene songs usually credit Odetari and 6rarelyhuman, respectively, as collaborators. Some of these alter-ego accounts, like Lucky Socks, maintain a degree of anonymity. 

But both cater to a demand: Anyone searching Spotify for a sped-up version of 6rarelyhuman’s “Faster n Harder” finds the Sassy Scene version first. 6rarelyhuman picks up plays (and royalties) that might otherwise have been steered towards an entrepreneurial cover artist. 

ODECORE has an additional function, according to Calder: Eventually, the goal is to turn it into a “sub-label” featuring music from artists signed to Odetari. “Ideally we’ll have a built-in audience already,” Calder says. ODECORE currently has more than 430,000 followers on Spotify, according to Chartmetric; that group functions as a potential launching pad to help Odetari’s future signings reach a wider listenership.

“A lot of what we do internally at APG is create multiple profiles for artists across social channels, and we’ll run fan pages in-house for our artists,” Calder continues. “We have these secondary and tertiary brands that are always on in the background. And so we just applied that same thinking to a Spotify profile.” 

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At the moment, the primary downside to releasing remixes under an alter ego is that they don’t count towards the success of the original on the Billboard charts. If artists put out a remix under their own name, consumption of that new version also counts towards chart position. (As long this happens within 18 months of the original track’s release and the original is still a “current” on the charts.) That’s why stars often put out remixes with big names attached when they’re in tight races for the top spot on the Hot 100. But if Ambor’s alternate version of “Belong Together” is attributed to Lucky Socks, he gets no help from the extra consumption. 

Ben Klein, president of Ambor’s label, Hundred Days Records, acknowledges that “commercially, it makes a lot more sense” to put out remixes under the same artist project. But Ambor is not competing for No. 1 — at least not yet, as the song has only reached No. 84 on the Hot 100 — and the team chose to release “Belong Together (Sped Up)” under a goofy alternate name anyway. 

“We actually took inspiration from the Laufey team when we came up with the idea,” Klein says. “When Mark thinks about his profile, he wants it to be a representation of his music. A sped-up version is meant to be a fun, playful way for people to engage with the song on social media. It’s not a direct connection to his artistry. And I think he just wanted to keep it separate for that reason.”

Calder believes “a lot more new artists” will take a similar approach in the future. As streaming platforms try to capitalize on the homemade remix eruption by adding their own audio manipulation tools, it’s easy to imagine artists encouraging fans to mess with their songs by saying that the most popular fan edit will be posted to an official artist account. Just not the official artist account. 

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