Indie Band Exploits Spotify’s Payment System with Completely Silent Album
Sometimes, silence really is golden.
At least that was the case for the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based indie funk band Vulfpeck, which used a 10-song album called “Sleepify” composed entirely of silence to rake in an estimated $30,000 from Spotify for streaming royalties. That is, until Spotify decided to silence the silence.
For Vulfpeck, “Sleepify” was one part troll-esque marketing stunt, one part organic crowdfunding scheme. In March, Vulfpeck put “Sleepify” on Spotify and released a video with keyboardist Jack Stratton, who had a plea for fans: Stream this album of silence over and over while you sleep, and we will use the money Spotify pays us to fund a free tour. Considering a Spotify song only needs to be played for at least 30 seconds to register as a play, the 10 songs on “Sleepify” titled “Z” through “Zzzzzzzzzz,” are all 31 or 32 seconds long.
At first, Spotify seemed to appreciate the savvy workaround by Vulfpeck. But by April, Spotify issued the band a takedown notice for a terms-of-service violation. This week, the streaming service took the album down completely.
In response to the initial takedown notice, Vulfpeck released an album on Spotify titled “Official Statement,” featuring a statement doused in reverb and delay, a track that’s 31 seconds of silence and a 32-second keyboard instrumental.