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Indie band Vulfpeck pulls Spotify stunt, gives fans the silent treatment

By Ed Payne, CNN
updated 7:26 AM EDT, Thu May 8, 2014
Apple on Monday launched iTunes Radio, a free streaming-music service for desktop and mobile devices. As more people grow comfortable with playing songs online instead of downloading them, the streaming-music landscape has grown crowded. Here's a look at some of the players. Apple on Monday launched iTunes Radio, a free streaming-music service for desktop and mobile devices. As more people grow comfortable with playing songs online instead of downloading them, the streaming-music landscape has grown crowded. Here's a look at some of the players.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bands make money when someone listens on Spotify
  • Indie band Vulpeck got fans to listen millions of times
  • Spotify says the band violated their rules

(CNN) -- Silence is golden. Or at least that was the plan.

Indie band Vulfpeck hatched a scheme to earn a big payout from Spotify. But they'd have to be clever; the music streaming service pays artists less than a penny a play.

So, here's what Vulfpeck did. The band uploaded a 10-song album called "Sleepify" and asked their fans to stream the album on repeat while they slept, hoping to multiply the royalty rate exponentially.

There was even some incentive. The band was going to use the money to pay for a free concert tour and go to the cities that streamed the album the most.

Every track is completely silent -- no music at all -- and only about half a minute long. According to the Spotify's payment plan, each song needs to be listened to for at least 30 seconds to count as an official listen.

Cha-ching! Fans came up big.

Vulfpeck racked up about $20,000, according to reports. At the half-a-cent per play rate the band says it gets from the service, that's 4 million plays.

But not so fast, Spotify told the band: The album violated its terms of content.

And "Sleepify" was gone.

When contacted, Spotify's Graham James had little to say.

"Sorry. Not commenting on this one," he told CNN.

There's no word on whether Vulfpeck will get paid.

Such a setback might deter other bands.

But not Vulfpeck. It bounced back with a new three-track album called "Official Statement."

On the first track, "#Hurt," Keyboardist Jack Stratton spills his guts about the situation.

"The gist of it was that, while they enjoyed 'Sleepify' and thought it was funny and clever, that it violated their terms of content," he said.

"So I don't know what's going to happen with it -- it's very uncertain at the moment. And in light of that uncertainly I want to take 30 seconds silence to ponder the uncertainty."

That ushers in the second track, "#Reflect" -- 31 seconds of silence.

Sound familiar?

Track three is a 32-second instrumental called "Parted Sea (Strong Pesach)."

Can lightning strike twice? We'll see.

But for a repeat, Vulfpeck fans will have to hit repeat, again and again and again ....

CNN's Chandler Friedman contributed to this report.

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