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Spotify skip rate is killing indie music

Last month, we put out Combo Qazam’s new single Owls. It has a repetitive groove for the first 39 seconds. Then, the vocals kick in at 0:58. Although we hardly define this as experimental, the composition doesn’t seem to fit this modern era. The Spotify skip rate is too high to have success on the platform. We submitted the song through SubmitHub and the bloggers and playlist editors declined to share the song for the following reasons:

  • There are some cool kraut tendencies in the song’s propulsive mood; I think that for me the song might have taken 20 seconds too long to really kick on…it’s hard to wait for a minute for something to drop in when someone stops by a site focused on singles…usually research shows they just click on after 30 seconds…
  • personally I found the track’s intro felt a bit too lengthy and repetitive in comparison to the track as a whole for my liking
  • Thanks for submitting. Sweet song. the intro is a bit too long.
  • thanks a lot for the song. we have to decline here because for our taste the intro is too long.
  • The seeming polyrhythms here I thought were cool. But felt like the build was a bit long and didn’t quite take me somewhere.

Combo Qazam didn’t think about the attention span of the listener when they made the song. They didn’t even call it an ‘intro’. The word ‘intro’ is used to define the part of the song before the lyrics start. But in some cases, especially in experimental music, krautrock, indie music etc., lyrics and vocals aren’t more important than the rest of the music. As is the case with Combo Qazam. It’s about the mood, the energy, the vibe and the concept. You got to adjust your heartbeat to the pace of the song first. You got to have the chance to be sucked in. 

And why do these blogs have names containing words like ‘DIY’ and ‘indie’, if they care so much about Spotify algorithms? The whole idea about indie music is that you can (and have to) create what you want, apart from what the industry demands. Right?

So where do these comments come from? Well, research shows that these are the skip rates on Spotify: 

  • 24.14 percent likelihood of skipping to the next song in the first 5 seconds.
  • 28.97 percent in the first 10 seconds
  • 35.05 percent in the first 30 seconds
  • 48.6 percent skip before the song finishes

So what should we do? We don’t know. This is merely an observation. Is the 30-second-user-attention-span causing the end of experimental music? Or did we never stand a chance to make it in the digital realms, with even a modestly weird choice: a minute-long ‘intro’? How can you like krautrock, but think that 39 seconds of repetitiveness is boring? Do these bloggers, playlist editors and music consumers enjoy foreplay when having sex, or skip right to the intercourse?

In the meantime, Spotify makes sure you won’t get any money if you experiment with song structures. You only get paid from Spotify if someone listens to your song for 30 seconds or more. If 35% of the people skips the first 30 seconds, you won’t get any income from those plays. Also, for users who are not logged in on their Spotify account, the embedded player (for instance on your artist website) only plays a 30-second long audio preview of each song. Not enough, right? Apart from money, it won’t count as a ‘stream’ in your data as well. Which won’t help with your algorithmic venture into fame. It will tell promoters, journalists etc. that you suck, basically. 

If you want your indie music to be featured in blogs, if you want plays on Spotify, if you want the $0,006 revenue per stream, and if you want the attention of today’s music listener, you better kill your ‘intro’ and bring your catchy choruses up front. But at Tiny Room Records we care about the music, creative freedom and artistic vision too much, so we will try to find other ways to get our music to be heard out there. There has got to be another way, right? 

Written by Stefan Breuer, founder of Tiny Room Records
With help from Gino Miniutti, guitar player of Combo Qazam

Microplaza – We’ll Never Fit In This Poem Together

Microplaza released their second album ‘We’ll Never Fit In This Poem Together’ yesterday! Get your copy here. There was supposed to be a release show, but of course we had to come up with something digital (and had a lovely party on Facebook with this semi-live video).

‘We’ll never fit in this poem together’ is the follow-up to Microplaza’s self-titled debut, which was praised for its combination of accessibility and alienation. The duo returns with six flawless indie miniatures: more consistent, darker and more intense than the debut, but just as inventive and surprising.

Microplaza is the indie pop duo of multi-instrumentalist Arno Breuer (Combo Qazam, Lost Bear) and singer Benjamin van Vliet (Microwolf, Moi, le voisin), formed after a call from Arno on Facebook to make music together. Arno writes the music, Benjamin completes the songs with his lyrics and music.

‘We’ll never fit in this poem together’ is a mini album that says a lot in a short time and remains accessible at the same time. An album that invites without temptation and has wisdom without giving answers. Benjamin and Arno have found each other again, in a musical landscape somewhere between Sparklehorse, Thom Yorke, WHY? and Thee More Shallows.

Moonchy & Tobias – Dall’Occhio

Today marks the release of the second single of the new Moonchy & Tobias album Atmosfere, a beautiful song called Dall’Occhio.

On Dall’Occhio (Italian for “From The Eye”) – Moonchy & Tobias’ Atmosfere reaches its dreamy apex as Tobias‘s chiming guitar arpeggios and Moonchy’s haunting vocal sound as if they’re emanating from a submarine underworld, bubbling up to the surface in search of redemption.

Pre-orders of the CD are up now too:

Onafhankelijke Label Markt 2019

Like every year, we are present at the Onafhankelijke Label Markt in the Tolhuistuin in Amsterdam. It’s this Sunday! We’ll bring some goodies, like ‘sold out’ stuff that we found somewhere in a box in the attic. It’ll be good. You can listen to all the records at our stand, and we’ll be happy to talk to you about music.

There will also be lots of friends and other great labels. We’ll be sharing the stand (harmless Dutch tradition) with Snowstar, but with Subroutine, Coaster, Moving Furniture, Winter-Light, Geertruida and Narrominded you can’t really go wrong either. Just come over and enjoy these releases with us!

Pre-order ‘Circus Devils: See You Inside’ book

Between 2001 and 2017, Circus Devils – the Ohio freak-rock trio founded by Robert Pollard (Guided By Voices) – released 14 full-length albums, each containing its own distinct sound and story-world. Remaining firmly under the radar throughout its run, the band provoked head scratching from music critics while providing fans with experimental cinema for the ears.

In ‘Circus Devils: See You Inside’, band member Todd Tobias offers a personal glimpse into the band’s playfully dark, psychedelic world. The very well-written A5 book has 204 pages, is in full colour, and has stories and images that every fan of Circus Devils, Todd Tobias or Robert Pollard will enjoy.

This is the first book released on Tiny Room Records. We are beyond psyched! It will see the light of day in September, but you can pre-order it by going here.

Garciaphone – Every Song Of Sorrow Is New

Good morning! We will release the new Garciaphone album Dreameater here in The Netherlands on November 10. We have been longtime fans of this band from Clermont-Ferrand (France), so we’re really excited about this.

Band leader Olivier Perez stopped dreaming for a year and a half. His dreams and ideals for a better world disappeared along with his actual dreams at night. His anger about modern society somehow led to quiet and haunting piano songs, that ended up on the new album Dreameater. Listen to Every Song Of Sorrow Is New now on Soundcloud!

Tristes Tropiques is out now!

A dreamy, hypnotic, melancholy-soaked collection evoking far-flung places where small-scale societies and indigenous cultures have vanished or are in the process of being swallowed by an ever-expanding global civilization.

“Tristes Tropiques” from the title of the book by French Anthropologist Claude Levi Strauss. The literal translation is “Sad Tropics.” The English version of the title is “World On The Wane,” referring to the vanishing culture-worlds of the last remaining small-scale societies on Earth.

Tristes Tropiques comes with the free download companion EP Moorea: