When it launched in Sweden back in 2008, musicians condemned Spotify as the Fifth Horseman of the Streampocalypse, an evil entity that paid artists insultingly low royalties and heralded the end of music as a profession. Then even President Obama got an account, and the world settled into the seeming inevitability of Spotify’s continued existence, with holdouts like Thom Yorke proving the exception, rather than the rule. But recently, one Los Angeles band has found a way to beat Spotify at its own financially insolvent game—and Spotify isn’t thrilled about it.
Back in March, Los Angeles-based band Vulfpeck posted an album composed of 30-second increments of silence called Sleepify onto the streaming service. It then asked its fans to stream the album on repeat every night while they slept—estimating that at $0.005 a song, users would generate about $4 a night. Vulfpeck would then use that money to pay for its next tour, enabling it to offer free admission to all of its shows. And the scheme worked, racking up nearly $20,000 in royalties for the band before Spotify removed Sleepify, claiming it violated the service’s terms and conditions.
Whether or not Vulfpeck will actually get that $20,000 remains unclear. Keyboardist Jack Stratton tells Vice, “Spotify pays two months after the listen. So we’ll know in May sometime.” For his part, Spotify spokesman Graham James couldn’t resist making a nerdy joke at the band’s expense, telling Billboard that “Sleepify seems derivative of John Cage’s work.” Burn.
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