Spotify Gets Punked by Vulfpeck's "Sleepify" Album
It's hard to be a musician in today's music industry. If it's not illegal downloading, it's streaming — on services like Spotify, bands only get half a cent per play. Even well-established musicians like Thom Yorke are feeling the hurt. So that's soulful rock outfit Vulfpeck uploaded their new album Sleepify. It's their quietest album to date, mostly because it's completely silent. There's 10 tracks on the album, all around 30 seconds long, and all titled with a varying amount of Z's. Why? Because it's all part of Michigan four-piece band's devious plan to raise money for their tour.
The band made a video encouraging fans to listen to the album on repeat while they sleep. According to their calculations, doing so would generate around four dollars for every eight hours of sleep. The band hopes that doing so will help them raise enough money to tour for free, and they've promised to visit the cities that stream Sleepify the most.
Surprisingly, Spotify seems pretty cool with it. A Spotify representative told Digiday that “This is a clever stunt, but we prefer Vulpeck’s earlier albums. Sleepify seems derivative of John Cage’s work.” (Music nerds, pat yourselves on the back for getting the 4'33 reference.) And it seems to be working for the band so far — with over 100,000 plays for each song, Sleepify is already their most popular album on Spotify.
So does this signify a new era for digital music? It seems like musicians have finally figured out how to game this broken system, and so far, the streaming services don't seem to mind. It may not last forever, but at least Vulpack's endeavor will encourage other musicians to explore the limits of this new, uncertain way of working in the music industry.