Don't Enjoy the Silence: Spotify Pulls Silent Publicity Stunt Album

Vulfpeck's 'Sleepify' album violated its terms of service, allegedly keeping tens of thousands of dollars from the band

Spotify
Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images
Spotify removed Vulfpeck's album, 'Sleepify.'
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Funk rockers Vulfpeck tested Spotify's royalty-payment policies last month when they released Sleepify, a 10-track album consisting wholly of silence. Now it appears they have flunked, as the music-streaming service has removed the album from its registry, according to Hypebot.

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The record allegedly would have netted the L.A. funksters $20,000 from the many times people have streamed its nothingness. When Rolling Stone reported on the record in late March, it had already accrued some 120,000 streams, the royalties from which Vulfpeck hoped to finance a free fall tour. Hypebot contends that some users left the record playing on repeat while they slept.

In response to the record's expurgation, the group posted a new release to the service with the title Official Statement. The first track, "#Hurt," is mostly spoken word, explaining how the service had sent the group an email explaining why they removed the record. "The gist of it was [that] while they enjoyed Sleepify and thought it was funny and clever, it violated their terms of content," a band member said. "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."

Even though the service had slapped the group on the wrist, they could not resist giving Spotify the cold shoulder one more time. "I want to take 30 seconds [of] silence to ponder the uncertainty." Then, the track changes to "#Reflect," which is, of course, a half-minute of nothingness.

"The original seed of the idea was a [longtime record executive and producer] Ron Fair interview on Pensado's Place, a web show with mix engineer Dave Pensado," Vulfpeck's Jack Stratton told Rolling Stone in March. "Fair produced 'Lady Marmalade' and said it was only available on the [Moulin Rouge] soundtrack in stores. So people had to buy this $18 soundtrack to get this hit single. He goes [scratchy music-business guy voice], 'That was a big win.' I was like, 'Wow, he's definitely working with the format in place. . . . What does that look like now?' And we started thinking about that."

It's worth nothing that while Spotify targeted Vulfpeck's Sleepify as an abuse of its policies, fans of silence can still stream composer John Cage's 1952 work "4'33"" – literally three movements, totally four minutes and 33 seconds, of pure silence. It's even available to stream as a single.