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March 19, 2014

It's a fairly well known fact that Spotify pays musicians mere pennies for making their music available on the streaming service, and big names like David Byrne and Radiohead's Thom Yorke have spoken out against the company (Yorke rather memorably called Spotify "the last desperate fart of a dying corpse"). But one Midwestern funk band has found an ingenious way to expose Spotify's disservice to musicians while making money in the process.

Ann Arbor, Michigan quartet Vulfpeck just released their new album, Sleepify, on Spotify, and they're encouraging people to stream it as many times as possible. This is actually a fairly easy task, considering Sleepify is made up of 10 short tracks of complete silence. To stick it to Spotify, "listeners" are encouraged to stream the silent album on loop overnight. By Vulfpeck's estimation, steaming Sleepify repeatedly over an eight-hour sleep period will earn the band $4 in royalties. All the money will help to fund a special tour of free shows, in which Vulfpeck will visit the cities that provide the most streams.

While the Sleepify album is likely as much of a publicity stunt for the band as it is a knock on Spotify, you've got to hand it to these guys for keeping a straight face throughout the album's release. "Please don't 'shuffle' sleepify," the band tweeted. "I know this might come of [sic] snobbish, but we spent a lot of time on track order."

Spotify, for its part, has acknowledged the stunt and seems to be playing it off well. "This is a clever stunt, but we prefer Vulfpeck's earlier albums," a Spotify spokesperson told Digiday.

Watch Vulfpeck explain Sleepify's premise below. You can stream Sleepify here. --Samantha Rollins

9:02 p.m. ET
Win McNamee/Getty Images

New Hampshire voters, feel free to snap away inside the voting booth this November.

On Wednesday, a federal appeals court in Boston ruled the state's ban on selfies in the voting booth is unconstitutional. In 2014, New Hampshire made it illegal for residents to take photos of their ballots and share them on social media, with a fine of up to $1,000. Last year, a federal judge blocked enforcement of the law, NBC News reports, with the state arguing that the point of it is to discourage vote buying and intimidation.

The appeals court found that while New Hampshire does have a point, the ban is directed at an "unsubstantiated and hypothetical danger" and suppresses political speech. "It's like burning down the house to roast the pig," the court stated. This is the first time a federal appeals court has heard the issue, but it likely won't be the last — there are still 26 other states that have various laws banning photography at the ballot box. Catherine Garcia

7:56 p.m. ET
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Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders put on a united front Wednesday in New Hampshire, with Sanders imploring young supporters in the audience to vote for the Democratic nominee in November.

The former rivals spoke at the University of New Hampshire in Durham in front of more than 1,000 people, and Sanders urged them to talk with friends and family members about voting. New Hampshire could "decide the outcome" of the election, Sanders said, and it is "imperative" that they hit the polls for Clinton. He then dropped some names to energize the crowd, saying, "If anybody tells you that this election is not important, you ask them why the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson and other billionaires are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to elect their candidates."

Clinton and Sanders also went over a college affordability plan, which would provide young people from middle- and working-class families with free tuition to public universities. Clinton had nothing but praise for Sanders, calling him a friend and "one of the most passionate champions for equality and justice who I have ever seen." She also reminded the crowd that it's "not just my name on the ballot. Every issue you care about, think about it, because in effect, it's on the ballot, too. The next 40 days will determine the next 40 years." Catherine Garcia

6:36 p.m. ET
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Authorities say a teenager who allegedly shot and wounded two students and a teacher Wednesday at a South Carolina elementary school killed his father earlier in the day.

Jeffrey Osborne, 47, was found dead inside his Townville home from a gunshot wound, police say. The teenage suspect, who was homeschooled, is in custody, and authorities are trying to determine what ties he might have to Townville Elementary School. Deputy Chief Keith Smith said the teen did not enter the school, and the shooting took place on the playground.

One 6-year-old victim is in critical condition and undergoing surgery, while the other victim, also six, has been discharged from the hospital. The teacher is still being treated. The school, which has an enrollment of 286 students, was evacuated after the incident, and is closed for the rest of the week. Catherine Garcia

4:34 p.m. ET

Saturday Night Live is ramping up the drama for this weekend, when it returns for its 42nd season.

In a sketch about Monday's presidential debate, show star (and newly minted Emmy winner) Kate McKinnon will be reprising her usual role as Hillary Clinton, but she will be joined by a special guest star in the role of Donald Trump: Alec Baldwin. Baldwin, of course, has an infamous reputation of his own for his short temper and unfriendly encounters with the media — much like the man he'll be portraying:

Earlier this election season, Trump was portrayed by the show's announcer Darrell Hammond, who had also played Trump among many other celebrity impersonations during his original run from 1995 to 2009 as one of SNL's featured actors.

The real question, though: What can SNL's writers, McKinnon, and Baldwin do to improve on any of the real zaniness from the debate itself? Find out Saturday, when the premiere episode for SNL's 42nd season, hosted by actress Margot Robbie, airs at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Eric Kleefeld

4:22 p.m. ET
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While joblessness among recent college graduates is finally on the decline, the problem of "underemployment" seems to be on the rise: Think the young, overeducated barista working at your local coffee shop. Underemployment — that is, a college grad working in a job that doesn't require a college degree — is higher today than it has been at any other point in the 21st century, The Atlantic reports, and the number of "non-college" jobs opening up for newly minted adults is rising at a faster rate than jobs that require higher education.

A large gap has opened between those with humanities degrees and those with STEM training. Underemployment afflicts more than 50 percent of college graduates with majors in history, communications, political science, and philosophy, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Graduates with degrees in math, science, and engineering typically have much better job prospects and starting salaries.

But as The Atlantic points out, college graduates still reap benefits overall, no matter what major is written on their diploma. The college-educated are still more likely than those without a degree to have higher wages, get married, and have kids that also go off to college. Kelly Gonsalves

4:05 p.m. ET
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The Senate on Wednesday averted a government shutdown with the passage of a spending bill that will keep the government funded through Dec. 9. The bill, which pledges $1.1 billion to fight the Zika virus and $500 million in flood relief to Louisiana, passed in a 72-26 vote. It will next move to the House, where it's expected to be approved, and will then hit President Obama's desk.

Senate Democrats initially blocked the measure Tuesday because it did not include aid for the water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan; however, the bill moved forward Wednesday after Republicans agreed Tuesday night to consider Flint aid in a future measure, to come after the presidential election.

Many government agencies were set to run out of funding Friday, as the fiscal year ends at midnight Oct. 1. With the stop-gap bill, such a shutdown is avoided. Becca Stanek

3:49 p.m. ET

It has not escaped the notice of female Democratic senators that Donald Trump is rather out-of-bounds when it comes to his treatment of women. Just this week, it was revealed Trump humiliated former Miss Universe Alicia Machado by inviting reporters to film her working out after she gained some weight following her beauty pageant win. Trump has also repeatedly questioned Hillary Clinton's health and "stamina," demanding she release detailed health records.

In response, Sen. Claire McCaskill fired back a taste of Trump's own medicine:

For what it's worth, Trump is in "astonishingly excellent" health, according to his doctor. Jeva Lange

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