Unexpected Things: Guy Capitalizing On The Concept Of Music SEO By Recording 100 Songs A Day

from the this-modern-world dept

There's an incredible story that recently played on On the Media's awesome off-shoot TLDR podcast, talking about a guy who basically spends all of his free time writing and recording songs on pretty much every topic imaginable, and then uploading them to Spotify and iTunes, just in case someone is magically looking for a song about any particular topic. He's already recorded 14,000 songs, and says last year he made about $23,000 from royalties. Many of the songs seem quirky, and I'm not sure many people would consider them to be any good, but that's not really the point. The point is to have some music on pretty much any topic.

The more I thought about this, I realized this is yet another unique outcome of the modern digital era. In our Sky is Rising report from a few years ago, one of things we noted was the massive explosion in books (mostly ebooks), but we carefully noted that many of them were these odd automated productions, pulling feeds of information and releasing them in book form. That kind of thing is designed to be created cheaply and never sell many copies, but still might be incredibly useful for the 2 or 3 people who need exactly what's in that book. If you can produce enough things like that, perhaps it's worthwhile.

And, with digital music becoming so common, it's not such a crazy idea to basically try to thrive on search engine optimizing (SEO'ing) music searches. I say this as someone who has created Spotify playlists about trains, bananas and (just last week) "the ABCs" for my son. As I was setting those up, I thought about just how incredibly different the world my son will grow up in is than what everyone else has experienced. When he says, "I want to hear songs about trains!" it's actually not that difficult to do exactly that. This goes beyond just what many people thought the rise of digital music would bring about, which is the breakdown of the need for "albums" as people move to singles, but the opportunity to create songs on a theme or topic for those people who are looking for it. There may not be that many people actually searching for any such particular song, but if you can make enough of them, covering enough topics that when someone needs just any song on a particular topic, there's now an opportunity to do that.

This isn't "the future of music" or anything of that sort. It's just one of those wonderful, tangential things enabled by our digital world, filling a need that is actually quite useful for some, in a way that really wasn't possible not too long ago.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    S. T. Stone, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 4:20pm

    Oh, this oughta be fun. Our anti-Google and pro-copyright trolls will probably have anuerysms when they read this.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 4:35pm

    It's "culture"....well sorta ;)

     

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  3. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 4:36pm

    NOT better: "just how incredibly different the world..."

    !00 "songs" a day, huh? And "S.T.Stone" jeers at dissent here. You can't parody Mike, he keeps slipping UNDER your worst framing.

    I'm not sure many people would consider them to be any good, but that's not really the point. -- OKAY, at last Mike comes out openly that the only important point is getting money any way can, all the "creative" and "artistic" interests for doing away with copyright that Mike has used are all just guff.

    Weenies are always excited by "new" without understanding the how and why of the old, the practical limits and flaws, nor why business must be regulated. They just see "new" and believe it must necessarily be better.

    12:36:21[n-297-3]

     

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  4.  
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    vancedecker (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 4:39pm

    Yes, it's called a content farm, and I have morons like that blocked so that they don't even show up in my search results. RapGenius is another group of idiots who are screwing up search results for everyone else.

    I guess the enlightened ones over at google are too busy building robots to manage their core product.

     

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  5.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 4:48pm

    Re:

    Yes, it's called a content farm, and I have morons like that blocked so that they don't even show up in my search results.

    It's one dude, filling a need. Not a content farm.

    RapGenius is another group of idiots who are screwing up search results for everyone else.

    Uh, totally different. This is a guy actually creating music. Filling in gaps where there is no music that fits.

     

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  6.  
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    Just Sayin', Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:33pm

    O'rly?

    "The more I thought about this, I realized this is yet another unique outcome of the modern digital era. In our Sky is Rising report from a few years ago,"

    I think that if you are holding this up as a great example of things advancing, then you have already lost the argument. 14,000 quirky songs isn't going to make the world a better place, it doesn't advance us much. Rather, it's just more "water" in the sea of noise drowning out the good stuff.

    He's not trying to fill the gaps of anything, he is just trying to profit from abusing the system. If pictures of dog sh-t worked, he would have taking pictures of 14,000 piles of poop. Instead, he created what are likely 14,000 pile of poop songs.

    If this is the Utopia you were telling us all about for years, you can keep it.

     

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  7.  
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    nope, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 6:52pm

    Re:

    Where was anything about copyright infringement mentioned in the article?

    Troll, meet Projector.

     

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  8.  
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    artp (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 7:28pm

    New capabilities

    I gave my daughter a CD for Christmas. It had some songs with her name in the title, and then I cheated and included a couple of songs from a new artist that I thought she'd like that had her same first name.

    Long, long ago, it cost real money to do something like that. Money that would have been way out of my league. But today, I just got on Amazon, some lyrics sites and Google, searched out some songs with her name in them, bought the individual MP3s for her (and me), packaged them up in a CD, then bought the MP3s on Christmas Eve, with an email showing up in her inbox with instructions on how to access them from anywhere.

    She loved it.

    Sometimes I luck out!

    Here's the [eclectic] song list:

    Sara - Bob Dylan
    Sara - Fleetwood Mac
    Sara - Starship
    Sara Smile - Hall & Oates
    Sarah Brown Eyes - (from the musical Ragtime)
    Sarah - Thin Lizzy
    My Sara - Thin Lizzy
    Sarah In The Summer - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
    This Is Sarah's Song - Glen Campbell
    Brave - Sara Bareilles
    Once Upon Another Time - Sara Bareilles

    It was really Fleetwood Mac that planted the idea. The rest was just gravy. And I had a blast doing it.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 9:32pm

    Re: New capabilities

    And you missed "Angel - Sarah McLachlan"? :)

     

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  10.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 10:53pm

    Re: New capabilities

    Sara - Bob Dylan
    Sara - Fleetwood Mac
    Sara - Starship
    Sara Smile - Hall & Oates
    Sarah Brown Eyes - (from the musical Ragtime)
    Sarah - Thin Lizzy
    My Sara - Thin Lizzy
    Sarah In The Summer - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
    This Is Sarah's Song - Glen Campbell
    Brave - Sara Bareilles
    Once Upon Another Time - Sara Bareilles


    There's also a really good song called "Sarah" by the band The Slackers...

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 1:28am

    Re: New capabilities

    Did you have a licence to transfer those MP3s to a different medium?

     

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  12.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 1:34am

    $23k may seem very little but imagine this guy would be starving asking for coins on the streets not long ago so if he has an audience that enjoys his songs then all good.

     

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  13.  
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    Just Sayin', Jan 16th, 2014 @ 3:05am

    Re:

    You can bet most of it isn't because of the music, but because people like Mike are impressed that he did the work.

    Think about it. 100 songs a day... the guy only has maybe 1000 minutes a day to work - so 10 minutes or less per song, from creation to recording and then publishing That pretty much means schlock, spewed out 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can imagine the "quality" here.

    Welcome to Mike's utopia of "more", and watch out, the sky is rising (or probably leaving for a more reasonable planet).

     

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  14.  
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    istar, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 7:00am

    It shows a small gateway into the progression of being an independent artist and that the need of being driven to go to record labels is getting smaller...

    Its a step in the right direction, to which the RIAA is noticeably pissed off about and has even their chairman crying for more regulation.

    http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/195107-googles-100-million-notices
    - Betting this is filled with Freelance, Non associated to Record label work. After all the dream is for RIAA and google to be side by side. Can't have independent artists make money :P

     

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  15.  
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    Anon, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 7:58am

    Problem Is "Free"

     

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  16.  
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    Anon, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 8:06am

    Problem is "free"

    When it costs nothing to plunk your song spam or book spam onto the internet, then of course some people will do essentially what this fellow does - spew out volume over substance (like some punk rock and rap, but different meaning of volume). As long as YouTube does not limit volume, or Amazon Kindle store, you are essentially inviting a flood of fertilizer. Maybe (so far) the volume is not large enough to be a problem. I'm sure email Spam started that way.

    One of the more annoying trends I've found is not so much content farms as passive and useless content aggregators (i.e. doing the same, only with Google linking). I'm searching for a specific error message text, half the occurences are websites that simple drag in a huge list of links to ral content containing that specific text. However the link is the searched-for text, plus reams of other links. Google finds this as a match, presents it as one of the early choices, I click, they get an ad payout.

    If the person were producing some value-add, great; Tom's Hardware, Petri - great. A collection of lists of errors and links to other conversations - waste of my time and Google's service.

    (Worse yet, is running across a dozen sites that have stolen(?) and replicated the exact same discussion thread on a topic.)

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 8:17am

    Re: Re:

    well, as seen below, this article did pull the troll out of the woodwork.

    Which had me wondering, why would the troll be so offended by this? Then it occurred to me--this level of production requires a tremendous amount of effort, which is obviously offensive to his entitlement-minded sensibilities. The thought that anyone would work that hard to make a living is terrifying to him.

     

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  18.  
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    BentFranklin (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 8:42am

    If this business model takes off we may remember fondly the good old bad old days of RIAA, especially once song creation gets automated. If they can make movies without actors they can make songs without singers easier!

     

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  19.  
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    vancedecker (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 2:00pm

    Re: Re:

    meh. look, the end result is that my search results are screwed, i don't care about his market. he should post to a portal specifically geared to his market.

     

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  20.  
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    vancedecker (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 2:02pm

    Re:

    Some people have already taken the initiative and outsourced their doctors to Canada, India, and such. Seems more efficient than the usual knuckle dragging drama you have to engage in to secure an oxy script from your regular doc.

     

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  21.  
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    still nope, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 2:38pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    tl;dr: stfu

    One would think people commenting on a tech website would understand the definition of trolling, which is participating in online discussion for the sole purpose of irritating others, which you are poorly attempting to do. But I'll go ahead and feed you anyway.

    The article presented a fascinating case, inviting numerous viewpoints. This guy is throwing everything at every wall and seeing what sticks, and this would have been practically impossible without recent technological advancements. But time is limited, so if you divide that by 14,000 songs it's safe to assume that some sacrifices in quality were necessary, as evidenced by the song samples in the TLDR podcast if you actually clicked through to hear it. These are obviously low-budget, low-production works, but thanks to technology, they are also low-cost, and Matt has turned his quantity of effort into five-figure revenues if not profits.

    But anyway, since you're so fixated on copyright, I'll oblige. He's made personalized birthday recordings for presumably hundreds of different people's names. And he did this without plagiarizing the song "Happy Birthday to You" (which may fall into the public domain after a court decision, but that's another matter) or using any samples of existing sound recordings.
    Paradoxically, limits breed creativity. Just look at Vine and how creative people can be with a mobile app and six seconds of video. Listen to "Short Music for Short People" on Fat Wreck Chords - 101 bands playing 30-second songs. Listen to NES music, particularly on SunSoft titles, and then read up on the limitations of the medium. To truly creative people, copyright law, Vine's six-second cap, and the NES synth aren't prohibitive; they're opportunities to push the limits of their respective media.

    And what happened? Matt earned $23,000 in [copyright] royalties from iTunes and Spotify. I just wish they told us about his touring and t-shirt sales revenues...

    Further, Matt's model is definitively long-term. And like some parts of the tech world, some works and creations are ahead of their time, or they can otherwise enjoy spikes in demand and popularity many years after their inception. Thus, if** Matt seeks his maximum-entitled copyright protection for his works, he can earn royalties on his creations even if it takes until the year 2042 for North West to use a sample of one of Matt's songs about poop in what turns out to be the hit single of the summer. As unlikely as that may be, Matt has already indicated that he's interested in profiting from his efforts, so copyright law effectively encourages such creative risk-taking.

    And lastly, not all artists support the retroactive copyright extensions of 1998, AKA "Sonny Bono Act" or "Mickey Mouse Protection Act." Many will agree that public domain is very important to society and that works should not remain under copyright forever.

    So yeah, counterpoint, I guess, if you consider your comment a point. Troll.

    **Yes, "if." Copyright protection is optional, not compulsory. And yet, even that one Beatle who said "imagine no possessions" didn't just throw that into the Creative Commons.

     

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  22.  
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    interesting, but..., Jan 16th, 2014 @ 2:46pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'm not sure what this comment highlights more, the double-edged sword of his Internet-enabled pursuit of the "everyone and everything" market, or the shortcomings of your search engine.

     

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  23.  
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    Greg, Jan 17th, 2014 @ 11:21am

    I never thought of the concept or ramification of SEO being applied to music searches. It is amazing to think my daughter could find any song she wanted about princesses (her favorite thing right now).

     

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  24.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jan 19th, 2014 @ 9:07am

    Re: Re:

    You should see if you could press those sour grapes, probably won't be able to get any decent wine, but it might make for a passable vinegar substitute.

    A handful of purchases would be expected if people were just buying them for the novelty factor, the fact that he's scored $23K in royalties however suggests that even if the quality isn't the best plenty of people still think they're good enough to purchase, which is all that matters.

     

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  25.  
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    Ian, Jan 19th, 2014 @ 9:45am

    The good old days.....?

    whenever I see the massive amounts of music being produced today. it often makes me hanker for years gone by when all I had to do was go down to my record store and listen to the latest releases of the week ( usually about 20! ) and make my mind up which ones to buy or ask my local radio DJ to play for me :)

    Is there just too much choice out there today or am I getting old?

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2014 @ 10:05pm

    horse with no name, out_of_the_blue and vancedecker just hate it when due process is enforced.

     

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