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Hey kids. Remember Vulfpeck? Sure you do. They are a really great band who had an ingenious idea to make some money on Spotify by creating Sleepify. They released an album of silent tracks and asked their fans to play it on repeat while they slept, to help them raise money for their tour.
Everyone thought it was hilarious. Until they raised 20,000. And then Spotify put an end to it.
Spotify initially laughed them off when the stunt was launched, and actually snarked about their music being derivative of John Cage. A spokeshole from Spotify said "This is a clever stunt, but we prefer Vulfpeck’s earlier albums. Sleepify seems derivative of John Cage’s work 4: 33."
Why, Spotify! I didn't know you cared so much about copyright.
Anyway, according to Vulfpeck's Facebook page and other sources, Spotify "respectfully" asked them to take it down. supposedly because it violated their terms of content.
In response they have created a new album with real music this time, and commentary. and some silence (of course) and some original work. it is hilarious. You should listen to it, before Spotify tries to take it down. In this case, though, I think they'd be hard pressed to justify taking down a piece that includes spoken word and original music.
While a lot of articles initially wrote that Vulfpeck was 'scamming the system' this takedown notice makes me see it differently. While the intent may have been to monetize their music (God forbid) in order to tour for free, Vulfpeck are now musical whistleblowers. Wittingly or unwittingly, they're illustrating what we and others been saying all along. With the royalty rates as low as they are, Spotify is not interested in creating a site that pays artists any sort of living wage. All attempts to do so are quickly stopped. Keep in mind this was stopped at the twenty thousand dollar mark. That's hardly big money is it?
While this may have been a clever gag to raise some touring dough, Spotify's inherent judgment on what is and isn't music is a bit troublesome to me. It may be in response to a gag now, but is it really so farfetched to think one day streaming services will not only continue to underpay artists for their content, but reserve the right to deny them access to the site as well?
"Terms of service," can be a slippery slope.