Folk provocateur Michelle Shocked is getting into the silent album business, releasing an LP called Inaudible Woman comprising 11 tracks that boast no music and are mostly named for executives in the digital music world, Billboard reports.
The move comes on the heels of the successful, brilliant ploy executed by Los Angeles-based funk-rockers Vulfpeck, whose album Sleepify contained 10 tracks with 30 seconds of silence and titles such as “Z,” “Zz” and “Zzz.” The group asked fans to repeat-stream the album all night in hopes of raising enough money to fund a fall tour; despite earning between $0.0030 to $0.0038 per stream and getting yanked from Spotify, word of mouth helped Vulfpeck managed to pull in over $20,000 in about two months.
Now Shocked has followed suit, hoping to fund her own tour with an album that can’t be heard by humans, but allegedly features high-pitched frequencies only audible to dogs. Shocked announced the LP in a surreal video during which she gave a winking nod to Vulfpeck, shared a hamburger with a dog and proclaimed that if people in any city on her upcoming tour streamed Inaudible Women 300,000 times she’d be able to play there for free.
Inaudible Women, however, has yet to hit Spotify, though you can purchase it on CDBaby.com. Along with tracks named after executives at Pandora, SiriusXM, Google, YouTube, Clear Channel and more, the last song on Shocked’s album was named after Chris Willman, a journalist who wrote about Shocked’s presumably homophobic tirade last year at a show in San Francisco.
While it remains to be seen how much Shocked’s high-frequency album will be able to pull in — or if the album will even make it to Spotify — Vulfpeck’s success has changed the way streaming services will handle such attempts to game the system.
“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 drummer and keyboardist Jack Stratton recently told Rolling Stone about where the silent album concept came from. “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.”