Ooh, Interesting! Fascinating Facts - The Sound of Silence

May 27, 2016

Today’s blog is another fun fascinating fact, this time from the world of music. Most facts obviously tend to become known after many years of having them passed on throughout the industry but this one is different, primarily because it took place in the digital music world.

It’s hard to be a musician in the modern age. Many people pirate your music or attempt to do the decent thing by streaming it instead. “It gives back to the band!” That’s what Spotify claim, but does really? The answer, unfortunately, is no. At least not really. Not in a meaningful way. You see, for every play of a song on Spotify, a band receive $0.007. After 100,000 plays, an entire band only recoups $700, which won’t exactly see them banking their royalty cheques and buying a house any time soon. Many bands would get more from performing just one corporate event for us!

Vulfpeck, who are based in Los Angeles and perform chilled out funk with a seventies vibe attempted to change all this. They realised that Spotify doesn’t actually pay for an entire song at all; it uses an algorithm whereby it pays out if 30 seconds of a song is played. This struck them as something they could easily exploit and decided to record a new album, one comprised of 10 silent tracks, which lasted just 30 seconds each.

Its name? Sleepify.

As you can probably guess, they uploaded this recording to Spotify and hurriedly marketed the album to their fans. A few of their videos have just over a hundred thousand views, so they exploited their fame on every social network going by appealing for their fans to listen to their album whilst they slept. If each fan got a good night’s sleep then on average, they’d be making $4 per fan, per night. As an extra incentive, they stated that the funds they make would go into putting on a free tour and that cities who streamed the most would be more likely to be one of the destinations. Clever stuff.

Of course, the moment mainstream media picked up the news (and they did), the game was up and Spotify pulled the album from their service, citing a violation of the terms of use. Still, the operation was good for a number of weeks and Spotify did at least pay the band for all the plays they received; a nice royalty cheque of $19,655.56 arrived a few months later.

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By Henry Fosdike