For a song to make an artist money on Spotify, it must be played for at least 30 seconds. Solange doesn’t seem to care.
On Friday (March 1), the singer-songwriter released her fourth album, When I Get Home, to a chorus of critical accolades. The album was swiftly celebrated across the internet, and lauded for its artistry and eclectic sound.
But if When I Get Home is to be a financial success, in addition to a musical one, much of the album’s revenues are likely to come from Spotify. Streaming is now the most important source of revenue for the global music industry (pdf)—trends suggest it will account for over half the industry’s revenue this year—and Spotify is the world’s most popular streaming service.
Of the 19 tracks on When I Get Home, four are less than 30 seconds, including interludes like “Can I Hold the Mic” (22 seconds) and “Nothing Without Intention” (24 seconds). Digital Music News reports that Spotify pays about $0.00397 per stream, but since these tracks are not counted as streams, Solange will receive nothing unless Spotify recently changed its policies. (We reached out to the company to confirm, and will update this story with any response.)
It’s a rare artistic choice. Though it could be a coincidence, other popular artists seem to make sure that their shortest songs are never less than 30 seconds. For example, the first track on Ariana Grande’s 2018 album Sweetener is 38 seconds. Eminem’s Kamikaze, also released in 2018, includes tracks that are 35 and 49 seconds long. Kanye West’s 2016 The Life of Pablo has 38-second and 45-second tracks.
Perhaps Solange simply felt these tracks needed to be less than 30 seconds for artistic reasons. She’s leaving money on the table, but that may not matter to her. After all, “Nothing Without Intention.”