SoundCloud & the Bright Future Ahead: A Company That Can Take a Beating and Get Out Victorious Every Time

Always trying to provide its artists with the best opportunities to grow their career, the one-of-a-kind music platform, SoundCloud, never cease to revisit, edit, and innovate its features in an attempt to make their experience more comfortable, more exciting, more practical, and more effective.

Despite the crippling inconveniences it went through, SoundCloud succeeds in circumventing many insurmountable obstacles, remaining one of the largest, ever-growing, and ever-improving online streaming platform music.

Since 2014, SoundCloud had been facing financial difficulties that exacerbated to the point of cutting off 40 percent of its staff in 2017, and closing its London and San Francisco offices.

In mid-2018, SoundCloud presented internal restructurings, innovative features, and new partnerships – notably with The Raine, AppNexus, and Noisey – thanks to which it managed to flourish and re-emerge as a competent and competitive power in the field.

The major novelties introduced lately by the company are SoundCloud Premier Distribution and Serato DJ Pro and DJ Lite, along with new partnerships, which are thoroughly tackled in this article.

This article tackles:

  • The company internal changes.
  • Newly-introduced features:
    • DJ software integration with Serato.
    • SoundCloud Premium Distribution.
  • New Partnerships and Relations.
  • Recently-rising artists.

Internal Changes That Are Shaping SoundCloud’s Future

March 1st, 2019, Eric Wahlforss, SoundCloud co-founder, resigns his position as Chief Product Officer:

One of the most significant changes within SoundCloud’s team structure is Wahlforss’ resignation. Eric Wahlforss officially resigned his position as Chief Product Officer to perform a new advisory, product-focused role.

“After more than 11 years of building up our wonderful platform for artists, DJs, and audio creators, I have come to the realization that now is the right time for me to take a break, reflect and think about what to create next. So, I have decided to step back from day-to-day operations at SoundCloud, and transition into an advisory role for the company.”

– Eric Wahlforss, SoundCloud’s co-founder.

December 5, 2018, Lisa Ellis joins the company executive leadership team as Global Head of Music & Artist Relations:

Lisa Ellis, the well-reputed veteran in the music business, entered SoundCloud to lead its global artist and label services team. Thanks to her expertise, rich experience in the field, and strategic vision, Ellis would help artists better communicate with their fans and fasten their growth as well as the growth of SoundCloud as the largest and most diverse community of audio creators, along with being a liaison to the global creative community.

Novel Features: How SoundCloud is Taking the Leap into the Future

December 12, 2018, SoundCloud announces DJ Software Integration with Serato DJ:

“We’re excited to introduce our first DJ performance software integration with Serato, a leader in the space,”

– Kerry Trainor, SoundCloud’s CEO.

SoundCloud launched DJ performance integration with Serato. Accordingly, DJs will, for the first time, directly and immediately access to SoundCloud through professional-level DJ performance software.

SoundCloud’s massive catalogs can now be directly streamed and mixed in a high-quality 256kbps AAC audio through the use of SoundCloud’s Go+ premium consumer subscription with Serato DJ Pro 2.1 or DJ Lite 1.1

This can be realized through simple steps:

  1. Downloading and logging into Serato DJ Pro 2.1 or DJ Lite 1.1.
  2. Enabling SoundCloud within Serato DJ then logging in using SoundCloud Go+ premium subscriptions data.
  3. Restarting the Serato DJ application.

To access to SoundCloud premium subscription, SoundCloud Go+, creators need to:
Purchase a standalone SoundCloud Go+ subscription for $9.99/month

For a further elevated DJ set, subscribe into SoundCloud Pro Unlimited, SoundCloud’s premium creator subscription, accordingly paying only $4.99 for SoundCloud Go+, which is accessible on SoundCloud’s official site, iOS App Store, and Google Play

The combination of both SoundCloud Pro Unlimited and SoundCloud Go+ would further enhance DJs’ experience. Indeed, with only $16.99/month, DJs are given industry-leading creator tools and are also given a chance to mix and stream millions of tracks within Serato.

New users are allowed a one-month free trial.

When it comes to choosing distributors, artists are increasingly paying much importance to the following criteria:

  • Marketing support.
  • Sync licensing.
  • Claiming YouTube revenues.
  • Playlist pitching.

When loading a SoundCloud track to the deck, the entire audio stream will be uploaded. After the download, Serato will analyze the file, and you will be provided with the necessary track information. Consequently, all information will be stored in your library.

Creators can choose not to have their music available to 3rd parties.

Until recently, digital workflows for DJs were limited to download and physical media, but streaming workflows are the future,” Trainor said.

The DJ and electronic community is extremely important to SoundCloud, and that’s why we chose to announce this news here at Amsterdam Dance Event,” he says. “This community, particularly out of Europe, [was] the first to really embrace our platform.

“SoundCloud is such an important platform for music discovery and has long been aligned with the DJ community […] we’re thrilled to partner with a service that offers such a large and diverse catalog of songs unavailable anywhere else online.”

– Nick Maclaren, Chief Strategy Officer at Serato.

Within this same creator-focused vision and expansion-oriented strategy, SoundCloud announces its partnership with Native Instruments, Virtual DJ, DEX3, MIXVIBES, and Hercules.

Pedram Faghfouri, Director of Products, Traktor said: “Native Instruments and SoundCloud share a vision to inspire and empower music lovers and creators, so we’re excited to work on this milestone integration. The news means more users will be able to seamlessly go from inspiration to creation, whether a first time DJ, hobbyist or professional. User feedback and collaboration is central to the development of all of new TRAKTOR products and services, and streaming has been a hot topic across our audiences. With over 500,000 TRAKTOR users and new hardware and software released today, we’re pleased to continue pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with digital DJing and look forward to sharing more on this integration early next year.

February 19, 2019, the Company Introduces SoundCloud Premier Distribution:

It’s about a two-sided ecosystem: Creators bring great content, and that content has the opportunity to be discovered,” says CEO Kerry Trainor.

SoundCloud introduced SoundCloud Premier Distribution as part of its Premier monetization toolkit, now available in open beta.

To empower and sustain independent creators, SoundCloud launches a distribution tool that is directly built into the streaming platform, thanks to which artists:

  • Share tracks instantly to all major music platforms.
  • Connect instantly with fans and have real-time feedback.
  • Manage their content.
  • Get paid from all major and rival music services, including Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, Apple music, Amazon music, Instagram, YouTube music, Tencent, Tidal, and Napster.

“Streaming has risen, people are paying for music again, and it’s fantastic what all the major streaming services are doing there. But what SoundCloud has been about, always, is empowering creators and giving that connection between creator and listener. Our overall position is about continuing to invest in that — it’s not about trying to chase those other mass services,”

– Kerry Trainor, Chief Executive Officer.

Interestingly, while retaining 100 percent of the artists’ rights, 100 percent of their royalties from third-party services, and getting paid from SoundCloud, tracks can be distributed to all platforms without leaving SoundCloud and without additional cost to Pro, or Pro Unlimited accounts.

Trainor carries on explaining: “Only SoundCloud empowers creators with a unified platform to instantly upload and share, connect with fans in real-time and get paid for their work everywhere—both on SoundCloud and across other leading music services.”

There are; however, some restrictive conditions:

  • Artists should be Pro and Pro Unlimited subscribers.
  • Creators should have a minimum of 1.000 plays over the past month from countries that support SoundCloud listener subscriptions, i.e., US, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, New Zealand, Ireland, and The Netherlands.
  • They should be rights owners.
  • The music should not be either remix nor cover: it should be original.
  • They should have no copyright strike at the time of enrolment.
  • Audio-books, white noise, podcasts, as well as classical works are not allowed. Otherwise, you’ll be denied the right to access to SoundCloud’s Premier Monetization Program.

This is a highly valuable and beneficial step for creators who, in CEO Kerry Trainor’s words, “can now spend less time and money jumping between different tools, and more time making music, connecting with fans and growing their careers first on SoundCloud.” As SoundCloud is “always going to be looking for opportunities to invest in more tools for those creators,” this is, indeed, an essential step for creators to expand their listeners and maximize their revenues with no more than few clicks.

To optimize this new feature, SoundCloud initiated a partnership agreement with distributor FUGA, as “FUGA’s technology powers a portion of SoundCloud’s distribution setup.

Ever since its distribution, the new distribution tool has been praised and celebrated by many SoundCloud artists

I believe SoundCloud’s new distribution tool is the way of the future for independent artists and music in general […] it makes distribution an easy one-step process, giving you a very simple way to monetize your plays and the freedom to reach new heights with your fan base,” Leaf.

“SoundCloud’s distribution tool is a great way for unsigned artists to get their music out there for the world to hear. Everyone knows how easy it is to upload a song to SoundCloud, and now it’s just as simple to upload and distribute everywhere,”

– Jevon, Hip-hop musician and producer.

March 5, 2019, SoundCloud launches SoundCloud Go+ for Students:

Always thoughtful of the least detail that would empower and support creators, SoundCloud helps enlarge its artists’ audience through enhancing their chances to be heard, known, and loved.

With the introduction of SoundCloud Go+ for students, college and university students now enjoy access to SoundCloud’s Premium listening subscription for a deducted price of $4.99/ €4.99 per month. This service is available in the US, UK Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, France, and the Netherlands.

Thanks to this offer, students profit from:

  • Ad-free listening.
  • High-quality audio streaming.
  • Downloaded tracks offline.
  • Full access to SoundCloud’s vast catalog of over 200 million tracks

Newly-subscribed students benefit from a 30-day free trial.

Partnership and Relations Agreements: One Hand Cannot Clap

October 19, 2018, SoundCloud initiated a partnership with Dubset:

“We are excited to partner with Dubset to continue developing ways to attribute rights for remixes and other innovative content on SoundCloud,”

– Stephen White, CEO Dubset Media Holdings.

With an invite-only beta program for individual remixes, this research and development-oriented partnership will disclose more value for creators and right holders alike, legitimating DJs and artists’ clearances to copyrighted materials. Hence, providing proper right clearance and revenues distribution.

Stephen White, CEO Dubset Media Holdings added: “SoundCloud is where content creators live. It is the most important platform on the planet for creators and the ultimate partner for Dubset.”

Mixes and remixes not only establish incremental new revenue for artists and composers, they have proven over and over to be powerful music discovery growth tools, consistently driving growth in plays of the original track as well.

Dubset’s cutting edge technology and rights management database analyze content music – through it’s MixSCAN – to identify original music within remixes, samples, and mixes. They are accordingly allowing faster rights clearances, claiming full rights to the original rights holders and monetizing those artists and composers.

This is highly important for SoundCloud, for it has always struggled to assure that its users do not violate, in any way, copyrighted materials and to compensate for artists. This partnership is a way over for original creators to be paid, while at the same time promoting remixes, mashups, and originals using unlicensed materials and allowing them to flourish.

March 07, 2019, SoundCloud expand its advertising partnership with DAX to Canada:

Since 2016, DAX has been SoundCloud’s exclusive sales partner in the UK. “DAX has been a great partner to SoundCloud in the UK for years. Now, with this expanded deal, we’re able to leverage its leading technology and deep sales abilities to support the continued growth of our ad-supported service in the Canadian market,” Michael Weissman, SoundCloud’s Chief Operating Officer.

The world’s most enhanced and pioneering digital audio advertising platform, DAX, further broaden its working relationship with SoundCloud to provide Canadian advertisers with multiple chances and enhanced campaigns and experiences in digital audio. Advertisers in Canada can now profit from sophisticated data targeting technology, and DAX’s uniquely outstanding distribution tool Listener Insight ID.

Chief Revenue Officer, Chris Nimigon, DAX Canada optimistically declares that “since launching in Canada, DAX continues to grow at an exceptional rate and we’re all very excited to bring SoundCloud’s huge catalog of audio content to our clients and partners.

March 20, 2019, SoundCloud Partners with Southern Cross Austereo (SCA):

SoundCloud expanded its advertising partnership, announcing its agreement with Southern Cross Austereo, one of the biggest and strongest Australian media companies.

On April 1st, SoundCloud’s audios and videos will be programmatically and instantly accessible through SCA.

Australia is a key market for SoundCloud. We look forward to offering advertisers more opportunities to reach our audience of tastemakers who are driving what’s next in music culture,” said Michael Weissman, Chief Operating Officer, SoundCloud. “With SCA as our dedicated partner, we’ll be able to leverage their incredible reach and leading sales support team as we continue to grow our service in Australia.

According to recent IAB Audio State of the Nation Survey, Australia is witnessing a significantly growing tendency to invest in Digital Streaming Audio. Indeed, the survey proves that 84% of buyers have the plan to do so in 2019.

Being one of Australia’s biggest media companies, SCA reaches 95% of the country with assets across different channels, including television, radio, podcasts, and digital. Thanks to SCA, buyers are able to attain a wealth of niche music audiences with SoundCloud. With the mainstream radio fans, buyers are already permitted access to its highly expanded network.

Some of SoundCloud’s Recently Remarkable Artists:

Francesca Lombardo:

SoundCloud has recently celebrated Francesca Lombardo’s ground-breaking single “Eye Ring,” being the 200 millionth track.

Screenshot of Francesca Lombardo's Eye Ring on SoundCloud

Francesca Lombardo – Eye Ring

Lombardo is one of the most known and remarkable DJs and vocalists within SoundCloud’s larger-than-life family. Her “Eye Ring” is a testimony of SoundCloud’s success in producing a variable, boundary-pushing content. Indeed, the track is a formidable admixture of classical and contemporary melodies.

“The track is mostly a combination of all the sounds love, drawing upon all my musical influences from an early age up to now,” Lombardo explains. Acknowledging SoundCloud’s contribution in her career, she adds: “SoundCloud is also a great place to archive my mixes, radio shows and remixes that have happened over the years, which I think gives a good representation of how I have evolved and what I do as an artist.”

Juice Wrld:

After the release of his “Lucid Dreams,” the 20-year-old rapper, Juice Wrld, was recognized on a mainstream level.

Screenshot of Juice WRLD's Lucid Dreams on SoundCloud

Juice WRLD – Lucid Dreams

When his “Lucid Dreams” peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, he secured a $3 million deal with Interscope.

He is, indeed, proof of SoundCloud’s competence in artists-building career and its omnipresence in the music industry.