Matt Farley Will Quit Making Music If He Doesn’t Earn $1 Million From Spotify By 2018
… and he plans to earn that money with an 8-hour Spotify playlist consisting of 300 of his own songs. Sound extreme? Indie Artists Matt Farley has been taking things to the extreme for over a decade now, and I – for one – love it.
Guest Post by Chris Robley on The DIY Musician
You might remember Matt Farley as the guy who got a bunch of press last year for having written 17,000 songs under 70 different aliases, including Papa Razzi and the Photogs, The Very Nice Interesting Singer Man, The Toilet Bowl Cleaners, The Passionate & Objective Jokerfan, and The Singing Animal Lover. He got coverage on lots of music blogs, news sites, even NPR — talking about his process for coming up with and recording multiple songs each day.
The idea is simple in theory but tougher in execution: if you write a song about absolutely every topic, first name, holiday, sports team, scientific discovery, film director, etc., then you will capture a ton of search traffic in tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny increments — straddling the whole long tail. Brilliant? Crazy? Both?
Anyway, I first came to know and love him as one half of songwriting duo Moes Haven, a group that released an album on CD Baby about ten years ago that featured a song called “CD Baby.” In it, Matt Farley pleaded with us to feature Moes Haven on the homepage of cdbaby.com, and even provides his phone number as part of the lyrics. Well, CD Baby’s founder Derek Sivers called him AND featured the album on the homepage for a few days. The thing that really intrigued me about the song, though, was that despite its all-out desperation (on the surface), it was hilariously self-aware.
So while his current musical project (to record a song on every topic he can possibly think of) might be extreme, and while he writes at lightning speed, Matt Farley is no “Outsider artist.” That self-awareness and wit shows through, even when the recording-quality, performance, or content might seem tossed off.
Matt Farley’s extreme press release
Matt sent out an email the other day about his umbrella identity (Motern Media) that said the following:
One man has written 17,000 songs!!!!! His name is Matt Farley. He has a foolproof plan to make $1Million!!!!
He has declared that June 3rd is WORLD MOTERN DAY. On WORLD MOTERN DAY, 1Million people will listen to the OFFICIAL MOTERN MEDIA PLAYLIST on Spotify. It’s an 8-hour playlist with 300 of Matt’s best songs. Each time someone listens to the whole thing, Matt earns about $1.50.
What if it doesn’t work????
Matt has declared that he will continue his prolific songwriting until 2018, when he’ll have reached 20,000 songs! If his foolproof plan to earn some serious money hasn’t worked by then, he will quit!
Four lessons from the bold and ridiculous music career of Matt Farley
I wondered if this project was some kind of double ironic thing where he’s both capitalizing upon AND critiquing streaming’s low payouts per play. So I wrote him back.
He says, “It’s definitely not a critique of streaming. I love streaming. Instead of begging people for their money, it’s just asking them to spend their time with your work. Streaming is the future!”
I asked him if independent musicians could learn anything from the extremity with which he pursues his music.
1. Be unique and do something interesting
“We don’t have corporations relentlessly promoting our work like Taylor Swift does. So if we expect to get any attention, we need to do something interesting that stands out. NPR did a story on me last year because they discovered that I’d written so many songs.”
2. Be prolific
“Write more! If you write 17,000 songs, then maybe you’ll end up with 300 that you’re really proud of.”
3. Don’t be a perfectionist; release everything
“Release the songs that might not be perfect. If you don’t want to ruin your reputation, release them under a different name! But if you spent the time making the song, you might as well get it out there. There have been plenty of songs I thought were bad that other people have really enjoyed!”
4. Be bold and ridiculous
“It’s a little much to ask people to listen to 300 songs by a guy they’ve probably never heard of. But it’s such a big and ridiculous request that it probably grabs their attention more than just saying, ‘I have this new album, please check it out.’ Better to say, ‘If a million people don’t listen to this 8-hour playlist, I’ll stop making music!’ Threatening to retire is new for me. But I think it’s pretty interesting! If it’s interesting, journalists might write about it. And if people write about it, it’s like a free ad.”
[I’m writing about it right now, so… free ad!]
Anyway, I know many indie artists will be turned off by this type of pursuit, seeing Matt’s musical efforts as gimmicky or delusional, but these lessons can apply to every artist, even if you don’t take things to the extremes like Matt does. (See the film below).