Exploiting The Sound Of Silence

In music, arrangement is an essential skill that every composer needs to grapple with; leaving things out can be difficult, but often improves the overall piece. But what if you leave everything out?

In Search Of Perfection

One of my favourite quotes is from Antoine de St. Exupery: “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to take away.”

Taking this to its obvious musical conclusion, the resultant perfection could only be silence. The most famous example of this, in a deliberately musical context, is undoubtedly John Cage’s 4’33”. However, a more recent example arose a few weeks ago when Vulfpeck released a totally silent album on Spotify, generating $20,000 in proceeds and worldwide headlines as a result.

Spot The Difference

Spotify has become a major player in worldwide music distribution, and still generates heated debate around its pricing/payment model. Seeing a loophole in this model, Vulfpeck (nominally a funk band) released an album of ten tracks of silence which they pitched as being designed to be listened to while the listener is actually asleep. Each track is just over 30 seconds long – which is the threshold required for Spotify to register a play.

So, if Spotify pays out $0.007 per play, each fan who streams the album on repeat for seven hours per night will earn the band $5.88. Suddenly, you can see how having 1000 true fans could become a very good revenue stream!

Unfortunately, this plan was pulled from Spotify as a breach of its terms of use, so Vulpeck will have to return to more conventional methods of earning a living. However, it was still a highly successful marketing exercise, and it seems they have achieved their objective of raising funding for their next tour…


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