sleep asleep

Apparently Spotify has a ‘King of Sleep Music’, although sadly that isn’t (yet) a job title for an employee curating white-noise and wave-sounds playlists for the streaming service. No, according to Rolling Stone, the reigning monarch of Spotify slumber-songs is an account called Sleep Fruits Music. “The craziest thing I’ve ever seen on Spotify,” as one interviewee put it.

Why? Well, this artist currently has nearly 980,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, and according to the article their tracks are generating around 10m daily streams – helped by the fact that they’re all around 40 seconds long. Long enough to trigger a royalty payment for each stream, and short enough to ensure the average listener trying to get to sleep will generate a fair few of those payments.

Rolling Stone ran with a ‘bigger than Lady Gaga’ angle to the story, while suggesting concern in the music industry that the popularity of Sleep Fruits Music’s rain, thunder and ambient washes “diminishes the money available to go to artists who have recorded actual songs”.

The label behind Sleep Fruits Music – Dutch indie Strange Fruits – offers a sharp comeback on that, suggesting that this is more a success story of “an indie that has figured out how to take a piece of the major pie… Finally someone has been able to take a percentage of the whole music market that isn’t Universal, Sony, or Warner.”

(Albeit also a label that is being distributed through Warner Music Group’s ADA subsidiary, so you could argue that Sleep Fruits Music’s success may be contributing to WMG’s claimed market share.)

At the heart of this story is pure supply and demand: people want music (or perhaps more accurately: sounds) to help them get to sleep. Sleep Fruits Music is providing it, and has found a way to do it even against competition from Spotify’s own sleep music playlists.

It does raise questions in a model where royalties are still divided by share of streams, and thus where heavily-played catalogues of 40-second tracks have an advantage. But rather than take to the streets in outrage, we sense labels are more likely to rush out to find their own Sleep Fruits to compete.

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