#10 - One Hundred Songs In A Day

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - 12:15 PM

(Motern Media)

One way to make money making music online is the boring way. Write one song that does incredibly well and live off the royalties for the rest of your life.

Matt Farley is a musician who’s gone a different route. He's written over 14,000 songs and he makes a tiny bit of money each time someone plays one on Spotify or iTunes. PJ visited Matt at his home recording studio to see how it all works.

Thanks for listening. Be sure to check out Matt's music. If you like the show, you can subscribe to us on iTunes. Also, please check out all our previous episodes!

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Comments [30]

Matt Farley is a great guy. I met him through our mutual love of the movie Ishtar. Hey, Alex and PJ, if you read these comments you should check this out: http://waitingforishtar.wordpress.com/about/. I've met one of the creators, John Mitchell, and he's just as nice and everybody as interesting as Matt Farley. This movie is in post-production, and John and Jonathan are raising money t release it. I think it would be an excellent subject for an "On The Media" story.

Mar. 13 2014 03:51 PM
Anon

F'ing Hilarous. In my opinion this is also a brilliant response to the RIDICULOUS state of music... you want free music, here you go!

This will be all that is around before too long - and then it wont be so funny...

Feb. 12 2014 12:14 PM
Adam

<hipster>he was cooler when he was in moes haven</hipster>

Jan. 28 2014 11:08 PM
Meghan from Potsdam, NY

Heard this on Saturday and was laughing out loud! So entertaining...how do you find these people?!

Jan. 28 2014 10:36 AM
Terrance Schemansky from Michigan

This just shows how little steps can add up to big results. The other great thing is this Artist is just blasting out creativity, and getting it documented as recorded songs. This is not something for a perfectionist, but for someone willing to put their daily efforts out there as they are.. no major edits etc. This music is ideal for the short attention span available with today's listeners.

Terrance
3000 Records

Jan. 28 2014 03:15 AM
Kiernan from Houston, TX

Inspiration just what I need..

Jan. 27 2014 10:43 PM
Chris Greacen from San Francisco

Regardless of what you think about the music, there's a bit of an artistic achievement here. The "good-ness" of the song might not shine until some point down the road. Give these things some time and who knows?

I've done a song-a-day thing for one month out of the year (http://songaday.netscrap.com) and it's not easy to break down your inner critical voices and just go with it. Hats off to Matt (that's a lyric btw).

Jan. 27 2014 06:00 PM
Mary from Eugene, OR

Thanks for making this!

Farley has been featured heavily on my morning radio show on KWVA 88.1 for some time now.
The interview made me feel like he was just how I pictured. Awesome stuff.

-Mary
(of "radio glitterpie")

Jan. 24 2014 02:07 PM
Roroscope from San Francisco

Excellent point, Ohako. No doubt we're just a few coding hours away from someone creating a program to merge keywords into a garage band system that can automatically spit out and upload as many “songs” as Spotify and the other stream services can take in. At that point, even Farley won’t be able to keep up, and will join the rest of the unpaid 99%. Until then, it’s nice that Farley is “doing his art”, and has now received a wealth of free publicity (Thanks NPR!). Good for him. Just keep in mind, Farley is gaming the system, and if you happen to be a musician with ambitions in recorded music, his gains are at your expense.

Jan. 22 2014 03:50 PM
Ohako

That was insane! I mean really really really crazy. I think the only thing weirder would be trying to get IBM's Watson to do this.

Jan. 22 2014 02:45 PM

This story reminds me of another OTM story about Amazon books with similar titles: http://www.onthemedia.org/story/222742-problem-knock-off-books/

The similarity is that on the Internet, as media is digitized, cataloging and taxonomies become more important (avoiding the word metadata). In both stories, there are minor contributors that add digital files that bring in revenue through small payments and a fraction of the overall revenue of the web venue.

One way to better understand this phenomenon is to have a way to evaluate any system like Spotify. Consider the three or four layers of any system, business, legal and technical, and sometimes the social. I call that the BLT methodology. For Spotify, there is the business layer that consists of payments to copyright owners and subscriptions for consumers. The legal layer is the nature of contracts and copyright which has various peculiarities like geographical jurisdiction, how copyright is enforced through Library of Congress regulations and RIAA, click-thru contracts, etc. And then there is the technical implementation, where for example, people can upload digital files and become licencors of their material and be found in the search index system...

Understanding these three (and sometimes four) layers independently and how they combine to create peculiarities will make for better analysis. Uploading thousands of files is now technologically possible, and the legal and business aspects make this type of effort likely, if not inevitable.

Jan. 21 2014 12:12 PM
The Foodman from Decatur, GA

People thought I was crazy to stop my "day job" to make a matzoh-based granola. My company is doing well, and I am loving my life. All those "artistes" need to lighten up and enjoy the fact that Matt is doing what he enjoys and he is making a living at it. I agree with PJ, I want Matt to be widely successful.

Jan. 20 2014 08:53 PM

I loved this story. For those who are concerned that he is "spamming" Spotify or whatever the other "fraudulent" endeavors are imagined - lighten up. What are you all doing for a living? Matt is investing himself in his art. Does he hold himself as a pretentious "artiste?" No, but he is doing what any artist must do, create. Don't like his work, that is your prerogative. But don't knock the fact that he has found a way to make a living doing what he loves.

Jan. 20 2014 08:44 PM
laura silverman from Decatur, GA

Loved "Happy Birthday, Nan!"

Thanks for a great story, PJ!

Jan. 20 2014 08:32 PM
Pete Downes from Chicago

Matt, my name is Pete and I am a chicago-based musician and I have been recording since 1988. I have about 1600 songs cataloged so far. I've recorded about 10,000 total, but many are still on cassette and need to be encoded. I have dozens of reverbnation sites, but I think your spotify/iTunes path is going to be my new direction. I would love to chat with you about getting started so if you wouldn't mind reaching out via email, I would very much appreciate it. Thanks!

Jan. 20 2014 09:41 AM
Farley Forever

I found this episode via Matt Farley's twitter.

Not the other way around.

Jan. 19 2014 11:38 PM
Rotoscope from San Francisco

An ambitions workaholic, who is basically writing jingles and exploiting the loop holes of a free internet service, Spotify, that has no filter and a bottomless pit for storage. He's not actually selling songs. He's writing the same song over and over using lyrics as keywords to gin up search engine results. Getting search hits does not mean people are actually listening to this music, but Spotify does not make that distinction regarding royalty payments. A very clever way to scam a business that's already scamming musicians.

Jan. 19 2014 09:18 PM
Jon from UK

Great story, very interesting. His material is very reminiscent of The Beach Boys Love You album, which featured songs were written by Brian Wilson as part of a therapy treatment. He was asked to sit down and write songs about anything and everything, just to get him playing and writing again. What he came out with was quite similar.

Jan. 19 2014 05:15 PM
Maya from Westminster West, VT.

Great piece! I was touched by PJ's having Matt write a song for his step-mom Nan. That, and the,"Poop in a Wormhole," song was hilarious. I bet it will be playing in the halls of MIT soon.I love that Matt let's his creativity reign and frees himself to write whatever he wants. Gems seem to be coming out of it. I hope he makes a boat load of cash writing custom songs for people now, and gets to be the full-time artist that he deserves to be.

Jan. 19 2014 12:06 PM
Tanya from Cleveland Heights

Wonderful Story. Actually the Song for Nan brought a tear to my eye wishing someone would write a song for me. So thoughtful...

Jan. 18 2014 05:26 PM
Jon Cole

This was a great story. I love this guy. I am getting a lot of laughs from the poop song. Brings me to tears almost every time. Completely absurd, but borderline brilliant.

Jan. 17 2014 01:18 PM
Taylor Quimby

My favorite piece of radio in AGES. I love this guy.

Jan. 17 2014 11:09 AM
Troy from Seattle

Interesting, but TLDR missed the point... you can wrap it up in a feel good story all you want, but Matt's essentially a spammer on Spotify, gaming the system for micropayments.

Jan. 15 2014 12:13 AM
B

This is THE most delightful thing I heard all day.

Jan. 14 2014 10:34 PM
Amelia B from NYC

This was fascinating! I started looking up some of the music on Spotify and there is really a ridiculous range. It's incredible.

Jan. 13 2014 09:01 PM
KS from NYC

This story was delightful. I got plenty of side-eyes on the subway as I cracked up to "Poop into a Wormhole". Perfect combination of stupid, absurd and quality songwriting.

I'm a big fan of this new podcast and blog. Great work!

Jan. 11 2014 01:24 PM
Dillon Flynn from Eugene, OR

This was a great piece. If anything about this guy's story appeals to you, I recommend you watch his movie from last year, Local Legends. It's free on Youtube from Matt's channel, which is called Motern Media. I'd post a link, but that seems spammy. It's an autobiographical comedy Matt made about his life, his music and his fascinating worldview. I can say honestly that it was my favorite film of 2013 without an asterisk, other than the default one that taste is subjective.

Jan. 10 2014 07:24 PM

I'm going to go ahead and assume that Farley has an extensive catalogue of cat related songs.

Jan. 10 2014 12:41 PM
Steve from Sanibel, FL

It is inspiring that in the time it took me to write this comment Matt Farley has likely already finished a song. If this is a kind and just world The Toilet Bowl Cleaners will get a 21st century masters collection.

Also, his song "Boston Girls Are Wicked Awesome" is wonderful.

Jan. 10 2014 12:48 AM
Christine from Chicago

This is one of my favorite stories I've heard in a very long time. And I listen to NPR pretty much constantly.

Jan. 09 2014 07:17 PM

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TLDR is a short podcast and blog about the internet by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman. You can subscribe to our podcast here. You can follow our blog here. We’re also on Twitter, and we play Team Fortress 2 more or less constantly, so find us there if you like to communicate via computer games from six years ago.

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