Johnny Matthews | The Search for Sunrise, Part One

Hidden in the depths of Spotify exists a track called "At Last, Sunrise". It's slightly over two minutes long so if you have a Spotify account I recommend giving it a quick listen. Even if you're not into classical music, give it a go. It's only two minutes long. This was written on 6th of August 2017.

Unfortunately, if you don’t have a Spotify account then you’re out of luck. Spotify is the only place you can find it. There is no YouTube channel, Bandcamp profile, or Soundcloud page. And if you’re thinking you’ll just buy the CD, then I’m afraid you’ll find no joy there either. There are no places to purchase a physical copy of Maree Docia’s music.

Note from 2021: this is actually no longer the case. There’s a bunch of people who’ve uploaded a copy of this track to YouTube, but none of them are the official Maree Docia, as far as I can tell.

Initially, I thought this was a bit odd. Why would an artist choose to give Spotify the exclusive hosting rights to their music? So I did a little digging but came up short. Very short. So short that I can’t actually tell you anything about Maree Docia. There is very little evidence that suggests she exists at all.

There are no records of where she is from, which label she registered her music under, where she recorded her album, or who designed the album cover! I found that more than a little concerning. Surely there must be some indication of this woman’s existence?

Just to check I wasn’t being completely unreasonable I decided to search for an artist on Spotify with a similar amount of plays as Maree Docia and did a bit of research on them. As of 11th October, Maree Docia has 372632 monthly plays on Spotify, and a band called Modern Baseball has slightly less at 344638. That’s a difference of 27994, close enough for me.

So, what can I find out about Modern Baseball? Well, they’re from Philadelphia and recorded their latest album “Holy Ghost” at Headroom Studios (also in Philadelphia) with “Run for Cover Records”.

That information took six minutes to me to find. So no, it is not unreasonable that an artist with more than 300000 monthly listens on Spotify would have some online presence.

But why is any of this important? Why am I surprised that I can’t find any information about this artist?

In a world where our every move is tracked by our phones, and our thoughts are plastered all over our friend’s Facebook walls, it should feel refreshing to not be able to find out every little detail about someone. But I don’t feel refreshed. I don’t feel relieved that this information is hidden from me. I feel skeptical. So skeptical in fact that I’ve started to ask myself “is Maree Docia real?”.

There are universities and independent researchers all around the world trying coax music from an artificial intelligence. Could Docia be an experiment from Spotify, an attempt to create music on the fly and pass it off as human creation? My friends and colleagues think I’m turning into a conspiracy nutjob, and they might be right. But the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that Maree Docia isn’t real.

Maybe it’s time to take a different approach.