When I first read about Matt Farley, who writes huge numbers of off-the-cuff songs organized around such themes as birthday greetings to a long list of names, it seemed like he was simply doing a variation on content farm spam. Basically he creates songs to be found via keyword/names searches on sites like Spotify, iTunes and YouTube resulting in low but ongoing sales and streams. Content farms typically do the same thing with a wide range of keyword-focused topics designed to do well in search engines. But when I listened to his interview I realized that he was doing something more than spamming Spotify.
Why Such Positive Response to a Music Spammer?
Here was a guy who was apparently flooding Spotify and iTunes with low quality songs covering as many topics as possible in order to bottom feed off royalties and sales. He really sounded no better than content farms like Demand Media, flooding Google with SEO-optimized articles, or people who repackage massive amounts of free content as ebooks on Amazon.
When viewed as content spam these efforts all lead to increased noise in searches as they clog up results making it more difficult for legitimate artists and products to find their audience.
What Farley Does
But when I listened to the radio piece on Matt Farley, it became clear that he's not so much a spammer as a reasonably creative guy who's found a way to eke out a living writing lightweight songs on a huge range of topics every day.
He says he's written over 14,000 songs and makes under 25k a year doing so.
What Farley does is take a keyword-rich topic, such as all the things in his house, and spends the day writing songs. One about his door, one about his window, one about his [fill in the blank].
He's done this with birthday greetings for a wide range of names. He's also done so many poop songs that he now has multiple albums of poop songs on iTunes. In fact, his poop song videos are featured as popular uploads on Farley's YouTube channel.
Farley told the reviewer that it's sometimes frustrating that listeners are often drawn to the more superficial songs than to the songs that he thinks show more creativity. For example, the lyrics to his most popular poop song is simply the word "poop" sung over and over again.
It's a Creative Grind But Farley Seems to Rise Above It
In a separate interview Farley discussed this inventory-like process and said, regarding such efforts as birthday songs with the same track but different names in each one:
"I can get 100 of those recorded in a day...It’s not fun at all."
Last year he made $23,000. So, yeah, he sounds like a relatively successful content farm worker who's sharecropping fields owned by iTunes and Spotify.
Yet, when he talks about it, Farley expresses a creative energy and positivity that makes it difficult to simply call him a spammer.
It's not just that he's likeable but that he cares about what he does, works hard at it and takes the whole process reasonably seriously.
He also includes his phone number in songs so he can connect with listeners. He says he gets about one call a day.
And apparently Farley also writes and records music he takes more seriously. Lots of musicians have found themselves in that dual role at some point in their career.
So I now find it hard to call Farley a spammer yet, quality of the work aside, I can't call it a brilliant business hack either.
Then again, his efforts lead to coverage like this!
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (Twitter/Facebook) is currently relaunching All World Dance. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.