On an average day on Spotify, megastars like Olivia Rodrigo and Drake regularly rack up the most streams. But in recent weeks, a new name has caught the attention of digital marketers who spend their days scrutinizing the streaming platform: Sleep Fruits Music.
All of the tracks in Sleep Fruits Music are just over 30 seconds long, just long enough to register as a stream on Spotify and trigger a royalty payment. Most of the hundreds of songs are short rain recordings, while others are gentle baths of electronic sounds. Sleep Fruits Music didn’t exist at the start of this year, but last week the account was generating around 10 million streams per day, according to screenshots shared with Rolling stone the Spotify for Artists tool, which allows artists to compare the number of streams with their peers.
These numbers compare to the streaming stats of one of the biggest pop stars of the past 15 years: Sleep Fruits Music has generated more Spotify streams than Lady Gaga in an average day in recent weeks.
In addition, a playlist titled “Sleep Fruits Music: Night rain sound, Relaxing nature thunder”, which contains at least 235 short rain recordings co-credited by Sleep Fruits Music and Ambient Fruits Music, was recently the eighth list of most popular reading. worldwide on Spotify, according to a confidential list the streaming service shares with its partners, which has been reviewed by Rolling stone. Last week this playlist Outperformed leading Spotify collections like RapCaviar and Hot Country, despite a much lower subscriber count.
A longtime digital marketer calls the recent hit of Sleep Fruits Music “the craziest thing I’ve ever seen on Spotify.”
Sleep Fruit Music’s Gaga streaming numbers are worrying some in the music industry as the popularity of these rain sounds is decreasing the money available to go to artists who recorded actual songs. Under the payment model split into a pie from Spotify, There’s a limited pool of artist money that comes from the streamer’s ad and subscription revenue, and each act’s allocation is determined by its fraction of the overall coins. When the sounds of the rain accumulate millions of streams, it diverts money to Sleep Fruits Music at the expense of more traditional musicians – singers, rappers, producers and songwriters.
âCutting ‘rain sounds’ into 31-second clips to maximize flow and make as much money as possible is totally immoral,â says Dustin Boyer, managing director of Venture Music, a digital marketing agency based in Nashville, Tennessee. . “They only take money” – he estimates between $ 20,000 and $ 30,000 per day – “directly from the pockets of artists. I really hope Spotify does something about it. (Spotify declined to comment.)
Dutch electronics producer Stef Van Vugt is the founder of sleep-music account parent record company, Strange Fruits. When asked about the criticism of his soporific playlists, he adopts a âdon’t hate the gamer, hate the gameâ position.
“My mind is blown away even trying to catch the idea of ââsaying [that] what Strange Fruits is doing is a bad thing, âhe says Rolling stone. In a hugely consolidated music industry, Strange Fruits âare an indie band that figured out how to get a piece of the pie,â says Van Vugt. “Are you going to denigrate the indie?” Finally, someone was able to take a percentage of the whole music market that isn’t Universal, Sony, or Warner. ”
“We do a lot of stuff in, I wouldn’t say a gray area, but we love to experiment and do crazy stuff and see what the limits are in music exploitation and music marketing.”
Strange Fruits debuted as a dance music label in 2016, but it revamped its approach in 2019 to focus on the eight hours a day most musicians ignore – when all of their listeners are oblivious. The label is now active in “eight to ten genres,” controlling playlists like Lofi Fruits Music (seven million subscribers) and Strange Fruits Music (five million) in addition to its sleep and mood collections. (Strange Fruits Music includes several tracks that Van Vugt produced under his artist name Steve Void.) Strange Fruits also puts tracks on Apple Music and other streaming services, although Van Vugt claims that about 60% of listeners to the label go through Spotify.
What explains the recent peak in listening to Sleep Fruits Music? âWe are actively injecting a huge amount of marketing funds [into promotion] in the belief that we will eventually come back, âsays Van Vugt. He likens the approach to that of independent dance label Spinnin ‘Records – before Warner acquired it in 2017 – or to a tech startup: âPushing something in someone’s face so many times, hopefully. it sticks.
The key, as Van Vugt cheerfully puts it, is not to be afraid of “losing money for a very long time.” He claims Strange Fruits threw “more than eight figures” for his label’s advertising in 2021 alone, and that record label executives have called his company “the sexiest company in space. , and therefore the sexiest “.
The label struck a deal with the Alternative Distribution Alliance, Warner’s independent distribution wing, earlier this year. (Warner also signed an algorithm capable of making music albums for sleep in 2019.) âWe do a lot of things in, I wouldn’t say a gray area, but we love to experiment and do crazy things and see what the limits are in music exploitation and music marketing,â Van Vugt says. “Being with the majors gives you a layer of protection where you can fuck left and right, a little bit, sometimes.” When asked to provide an example of how this “layer of protection” works, he said he would be much more vulnerable to takedowns if he released a popular electronic cover of a well-known track through an independent distributor. .
Although Van Vugt has success with sleep playlists filled with 30-second clips, collections like this have drawn the ire of the music industry in the past. In 2017, Spotify was storage receipt its own Deep Sleep and Peaceful Piano playlists with âfakeâ artists whose compositions actually belonged to the streaming service, which would theoretically help Spotify lower its royalty payments to the music industry.
In 2018, Music trade around the world reported on a pair of playlists full of 30-second audio clips that were among the top 25 highest grossing collections in America on Spotify for months, despite a small number of subscribers. Spotify ultimately shut down those playlists.
Insiders tell Rolling stone that at least one major music distribution company now actively discourages users from downloading rain sounds, sleep sounds or meditation music to avoid this type of problem.
Van Vugt says he’s been in contact with Spotify about his playlists. But even though the platform decided they didn’t like a collection like “Sleep Fruits Music: Night rain sound, Relaxing nature thunder”, Van Vugt says his label generates so much flow through its various other collections that it will be fine. “
âAt Warner, they describe [Strange Fruits] like a phenomenon, âhe adds. âI hope that’s not it. Because a phenomenon is something that comes and goes.