In an era where streaming services have unprecedented power to steer an artist to success, SoundCloud is planting its flag deeper as a “creator forward” platform. Today, it announces an expansion of its SoundCloud Premier program, a direct monetization platform aimed at making it easier for fans to support artists and empower its musician users. After initially testing SoundCloud Premier with a select pool of artists, the service will now be more broadly available. To start, artists will need to have at least 5,000 plays in the past month, and the program will be limited to countries where both advertising and SoundCloud’s subscription branch, SoundCloud Pro, are available.
SoundCloud announced today that it has more than 135 million tracks and one million albums available on the platform. By comparison, Spotify and Apple Music boast 35-40 million tracks. The music streamer also shared that it now reaches 175 million listeners monthly, who listen to music from 2 million artists.
But the bigger the catalog, the more confusing and time consuming it can be to discover what you really want to listen to. That’s Soundcloud’s biggest challenge, and they’ve been rolling out new features to address it.
There’s no inklings on what the new investment will be used for, but Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey confirmed the news, saying: “Earlier this year we made an investment in SoundCloud through Twitter Ventures to help support some of our efforts with creators.”
The two companies have worked together on streaming Audio Cards, which allows users discover and listen to audio directly within their Twitter timelines.
SoundCloud, the user-driven streaming platform which recently announced a paid tier of its service, and Sony/ATV, the world’s largest music publishing company by market share, have announced a “multi-territory agreement for Europe” around the publisher’s vast catalog.
The deal will allow Sony/ATV’s catalog to generate money for its songwriters via SoundCloud’s bleeding-edge identification technology.
“These deals for the US and Europe create the best opportunity for Sony/ATV and its songwriters to maximize the creative and revenue benefits of SoundCloud’s multi-territory business,” wrote Sony/ATV CEO Martin Bandier in a statement on the news.
While the label control over the paid tier is a play to rights-holders, perhaps more crucially, the user-generated remixes help preserve SoundCloud’s status as a music community. “The audience that is buying electronic albums and festival tickets is hanging out on SoundCloud,” says James Collinson, head of Ninja Tune North America. “It’s an artist tool and an artist community.”
Still, the question remains: “Does the world need another streaming service?” as Russ Crupnick, managing partner of the MusicWatch consultancy, puts it. “It’s going to be hard.”
And despite SoundCloud’s enviable reach, how much of its generally young and tech-savvy audience will pay for music they mostly have been enjoying for free? “Looking at conversion rates, it’s likely they’ll end up with low single digits,” says Mark Mulligan, an analyst at Midia Research, based on comparisons with other free services. But even a 5 percent conversion rate from SoundCloud’s 175 million users — 8.7 million — would make it a serious player.
SoundCloud’s disappearance would create a powerful ripple effect across the world of recorded music. The most immediate consequence would be the loss of a massive chunk of the world’s independent music available online.
And though there are other sites, most notably Bandcamp, that let anyone upload their music instantly for no fee, they neither have the user base nor the social media aspect that SoundCloud has to develop fans and sales. In fact, many SoundCloud users employ them in tandem, using Bandcamp as a store to sell collections of music, rather than a place to share their latest tracks one-by-one.
Where Bandcamp is the independent music store du jour, SoundCloud is its promoter, employed by musicians to drive awareness and sales.
Source: Digital Trends