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Imagine the Ramones led by John Cage and managed by Andy Warhol
April 4, 2014 2:15 AM   Subscribe

Who says you can't make money as a musician in the 21st century? Ann Arbor funk band Vulfpeck have figured out how to use Spotify royalties to fund their tour, enabling fans to attend shows for free.

Vulfpeck encourage fans to respect the music:
posted by paleyellowwithorange (30 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Can't possibly see a way this might backfire on the band openly working to basically approach Spotify in bad faith.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:49 AM on April 4


It's a neat hack. I suspect Spotify is only not taking their account down for PR reasons though.

Customer T&Cs:
that the following is not permitted:

[...]

(g) artificially increasing play count or otherwise manipulating the Services by using a script or other automated process;"
The contributor t&cs don't appear to be visible, but I'd be astonished if they don't have an equivalent clause. I also wouldn't be surprised if they suddenly include a very plain term regarding the encouragement of automated streaming.

This is just click fraud with music.
posted by jaduncan at 2:50 AM on April 4 [4 favorites]


Why must it be that I expect "John Cage" to reference the many hours of clang, noise, chaos and discord, but the media always means those four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence.
posted by idiopath at 4:07 AM on April 4 [3 favorites]


Oh, and naturally someone is hatching a plan to do this with a bot net.
posted by jaduncan at 4:24 AM on April 4


Not cool, Vulfpeck: at best it's a stunt, at worst a scam - and a waste of electricity and bandwidth anyway. Hopefully they'll focus back on getting their funk on once spotify finds a way to deal with this - their non-silent music is great.
posted by Dr Dracator at 4:39 AM on April 4


Am I the only cynic who expects that Spotify is completely down with this? "The entire history of recorded music"?

Come on. Who is this an ad for again?
posted by djeo at 5:01 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


Having said that, cool. Shine on.
posted by djeo at 5:02 AM on April 4


I think they could have done the same thing by recording an album that was all 30 second actual songs. That would have given them a little bit more plausible deniability and they could have still encouraged their fans to stream it in their sleep.
posted by bleep at 6:18 AM on April 4


Spotify is cool with this, although they have said they prefer the band's earlier work.

And, really? More power to them. It's a one-off, and a funny one, and the best that happens is it nets them some publicity and funds a tour.

The worst? I dunno. The development of a new genre of music based exclusively in gaming Spotify for pennies? Seems unlikely, and I must confess to still being curious as to what that would look like. I liked the last guy who put out hundreds of songs about toilets because the system that worked best for him was having thousands of songs that were purchased once. What else might come of this?

The future is an interesting place, because that is where you and I and some bands will spend the rest of our lives.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:19 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]


I think they could have done the same thing by recording an album that was all 30 second actual songs.

The Residents' . Commercial album . is just that.

Am I the only cynic who expects that Spotify is completely down with this?
ITunes' April 1 [2009] giveaway [was] . . . the first movement of Cage's 4'33 . . . although listeners who enjoy[ed] the first minute and 46 seconds of silence and want to hear the rest [had] to cough up $1.98.
I expect "John Cage" to reference the many hours of clang, noise, chaos and discord, but the media always means those four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence.

4'33" isn't even silent (and isn't even "about" silence, it's about chance, randomness, and serendipity).
 
posted by Herodios at 6:38 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]


It sucks that all those sub 30 second songs by Anal Cunt aren't putting any money in Seth Putnam's estate.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:51 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]


Correction: I misremembered The Residents' Commerical Album. The songs are 1:00 -ish not :30 -ish.
posted by Herodios at 6:58 AM on April 4


I have been well aware of this stunt for some time now, but I am not motivated to listen to the band, and though I read the name at the top of this post, I am already forgetting it.

So...how well do these stunts work? I guess any publicity is good publicity.

But then again, what are the subtle messages that this kind of stunt sends? That you really care about your music? Not really. That you're in it for money or attention? More likely.

I guess if you're after a shallow sort of fan, this might amount to something.

I don't know. I'm still waking up and kind of cranky. Plus, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have prejudiced me against anyone who calls themselves a "funk" band for about 20 years now.
posted by univac at 8:13 AM on April 4


Hey look it's Timony's brother! But at least this dude is funny. And fuck Spotify. I wish more people had thought of this sooner!
posted by ReeMonster at 8:34 AM on April 4


I see this more as an art project than a music project - even if they are in cahoots with Spotify.

It's an interesting stunt. I doubt they expect to make much money, or to achieve more than fleeting fame.

They're probably earning a comfortable living doing whatever they already do, and are just having some fun with a crazy idea that picked up some momentum.

Look at their tweet - asking listeners not to shuffle the identical silent tracks on the album because the order is supposedly important. They're just fucking around.

There's room for all the artists. The more active artists, the better. Yay art!
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 8:38 AM on April 4


If you have Sonos you can set up a playlist on Spotify and then set a Sonos alarm to automatically play that playlist for 2 hours 4 times a night on a Sonos device that isn't even in your bedroom.
posted by kalessin at 9:05 AM on April 4


Not cool, Vulfpeck: at best it's a stunt, at worst a scam - and a waste of electricity and bandwidth anyway.

Yes won't someone please think of the poor record labels, paying a fraction of a fraction of a cent per download on our precious, fragile tubes.
posted by bradbane at 9:26 AM on April 4


I guess the money to pay for this will materialize out of thin air, or maybe spotify execs will take it out of their bonus for this year. If the cost for something is hidden in many small transactions, and it's hard to attribute distinct effects to it - that means it's free, right?
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:23 AM on April 4


Out of thin air? That's not how I would describe paying royalties to the people who provide your gatekeeper monopoly with content to sell, but I guess to each their own.
posted by bradbane at 10:55 AM on April 4


It's a trick!
posted by thelonius at 11:20 AM on April 4


Herodios: it is about those things in that they are the consequences of a performer not making intentional sound, what most of us would call silence. I guess there is likely some Dick Higgins piece that consists of removing the audience's ear drums and inner ear, but otherwise it is the closest a musical piece will get to silence.
posted by idiopath at 12:32 PM on April 4


> The development of a new genre of music based exclusively in gaming Spotify for pennies?

Yes! O.T.M.: "Matt Farley is a musician who's gone a different route. He's written over 14,000 songs and he makes a tiny bit of money each time someone plays one on Spotify or iTunes."
posted by morganw at 1:08 PM on April 4


Unclear why you're pickin' on me, Idiopath, but any perfomance of 4'33" is orders of magnitude less silent than the spotty tracks in question. There's very little opportunity for serendipitous or random sounds on a digital clip of a pre-amp with the gain turned to -∞.

Meanwhile, as you noted, performers of 4'33" are not instructed to be silent, hm? they are instructed to not play their instruments. Cage started out thinking about silence, but a visit to an anechoic chamber persuaded him that there was no such thing. The discovery of the impossibility of silence was the specific inspiration.

they are the consequences of a performer not making intentional sound . . .

We agree.

. . . what most of us would call silence

In my opinion, Cage's point is to persuade you not to do so, and rather consider the question: If you try to intentionally be silent -- what might you hear, hm?
 
posted by Herodios at 1:12 PM on April 4


Depends where you draw the various system boundaries I guess. A digital audio stream doesn't contain sound, only instructions for reproducing one, and most people's listening environments are more noisy than a concert hall. We have a word silence. Pedantically we never experience the thing it refers to. We still find it useful to talk about it as if it were possible.
posted by idiopath at 1:23 PM on April 4


Also, I enjoy the irony of talking about Cage in terms of the composer's intention. Delicious.
posted by idiopath at 1:24 PM on April 4


Pedantically we never experience the thing it refers to.

Give this place a shot. Although my experience is that our ears start making weird whining noises to make up for the silence, or they always make that noise and we just don't notice it because we are too busy hearing things.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:27 PM on April 4


Bunny Ultramod, that is exactly the type of Anechoic chamber Herodios was referencing. Cage's explicit claim about 4'33" is that since he went there and still heard sound silence does not exist.
posted by idiopath at 1:30 PM on April 4


Damn that Cage! Always one step ahead of me!
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:33 PM on April 4


I'm just waiting for it to come out on vinyl.
posted by current occupation: at 9:14 PM on April 4


I'm just waiting for it to come out on vinyl.

The DJ was so smooth on the fade I couldn't even tell when he cut from track to track!
posted by jaduncan at 7:51 AM on April 5


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