There doesn't seem to be a requirement for albums on Spotify's vast library of streamable audio to actually be music. Of course, all these plays still mean royalties for the artist, even if the "song" is an orgasm noise.
Earlier this year, LA's Vulfpeck took advantage of this by releasing an entirely silent album on Spotify for their fans to stream while they slept. Sleepify — its songs named "Z" through "Zzzzzzzzzz" and each just over 30 seconds long — raised over $20,000, enough to fund a tour of entirely free shows. They are heroes.
At first it didn't seem as though Spotify would pay the band. Although the company was indulgent at first, they pulled the album in late April without giving a reason or citing a terms violation, leading to an impressive amount of backlash. In a statement of support on Facebook, alt-rock gods Cake questioned whether there was a double standard for demonizing profit at work:
"Artists who "adapt and evolve" get smacked down? "Permissionless innovation and disruption" only truly excellent when done TO artists?"
Following Sleepify's takedown Vulfpeck released a three track EP responding to Spotify's decision, entitled Official Statement. But by then, Sleepify had already been streamed 5.5 million times over seven weeks. Compare that to the 120,000 plays Vulfpeck's 2013 song "My First Car" received.
Now, Billboard reports that the band will indeed receive their payout, and are planning their tour based on the cities that streamed Sleepify the most. I assume they will actually play music.
In other streaming news, more consumers are choosing streams over digital downloads, while royalty rates for artists remain just above garbage:
"...sales of digital music tracks fell 25.5 percent in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the same quarter in 2013. Meanwhile, streaming music surged, with a 34.7 percent increase in on-demand song and video streams. Artists earn less money from streams than they do from digital song sales, but the rates for streaming are slowly rising."