Spotify Shoots Down Band’s Silent Album Fundraising Hack
Vulfpeck would've used 'Sleepify' royalties to fund a free tour
Vulfpeck wanted to go on tour this fall, but didn’t want to charge their fans admission. So the funk group released Sleepify, a Spotify exclusive comprising 10 tracks filled with absolutely no sound (alternately, as band leader Jack Stratton describes it above: “the most silent album ever recorded”). The March LP was an ingenious back door into the streaming service’s royalty system, designed to gather all of those precious half-cents into a pot large enough to send the Ann Arbor, Michigan crew on the road. But that won’t be happening now. According to Hypebot, Spotify has removed Sleepify from its registry.
The quartet was supposedly on track to raise $20,000 via the quiet release. Very early on, Rolling Stone reported that 120,000 streams had already been recorded — presumably many fans heeded Stratton’s advice of putting the album on repeat while they slept at night. Back then, Spotify seemed fine with it, and even hit back with a playful dash of criticism. “This is a clever stunt, but we prefer Vulfpeck’s earlier albums. Sleepify seems derivative of John Cage’s work,” a spokesperson had told Digiday, referencing the revered experimental composer behind the music-less song “4’33.”
As a response to Spotify’s decision to dismiss Sleepify, the band once again turned to the streaming service, releasing their new “album,” Official Statement. On the first track, “#Hurt,” one band member details the company’s flip-fop: “The gist of it was, while they enjoyed Sleepify and thought it was funny and clever, it violated their terms of content. They were asking me to take down Sleepify from their service. And I’m scared. And I’m a little bit chilly. I’m hurt. I’m confused… I know they have a legal team and investment, but I have Spotify and they don’t. So I’m using my outlet.”
This is followed by “#Reflection,” which consists of another 30 seconds of silence.