Funk band Vulfpeck have worked out a way to make money from Spotify – release short clips of silence and ask fans to stream it repeatedly overnight.
Who says you can’t make money out of Spotify? Certainly not Vulfpeck, a funk band from Ann Arbor, Michigan, who seem to have devised a way to beat the streaming service at its own game.
Their new album Sleepify consists of 10 songs of absolute silence, each clocking in at either 31 or 32 seconds long (tracks need to be listened to for 30 seconds to register as having been played). All they ask is that their fans stream it overnight on repeat while they sleep, in order to produce enough royalties for the band to go on tour.
It’s entrepreneurial stuff. The Guardian’s music editor Michael Hann said this morning he had always wondered if bands streamed their own albums overnight in order to make a bit of extra cash – this is clearly the more profitable next step, increasing both scale and economy.
There are two questions. First, how much money would it actually make? The company itself admitted last year that it only pays out $0.007 for each track, which sounds rubbish at first. But that means we’re only looking at 100 streams of a track to make 70 cents, or about 143 streams to make a dollar. Sleepify will get through 10 streams in just over five minutes. So if a fan slept for seven hours (plus some added time for the extra one or two seconds on each track) and streamed the album for the whole time, they’d play 840 tracks, generating $5.88 for Vulfpeck. If you can convince one hundred fans to do the same, that works out at $588 per night royalties – and that’s assuming each listener only has one playable device and only streams through the night (if they let it play all through the day, Vulfpeck’s earnings could be more than tripled). You could, with willing fans, make a load of money from this scheme.
The second question is: what does the music sound like? I went online to apply my critical skills. Opening track Z certainly sets the tone, a subtle, intriguing work that teases the listener as to what may come next. It’s followed by Zz and Zzz which continue along similar lyrical themes while staying true to Sleepify’s overriding minimalist aesthetic. By the midpoint, you realise Vulfpeck are aiming to pull off the same trick as the Ramones: they may only have one song, but it’s an effective one. However, despite bravely mixing the track lengths up between 31 seconds and 32 seconds, you start to wonder if Sleepify is ultimately rather one-note and not the original work its makers suggest. As Spotify themselves said, in an admittedly amusing response to the story, it all “seems derivative of John Cage’s work.”
You can hear it here. If you want.
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