Last summer wasn’t a great time for SoundCloud. The company laid off 40% of its staff,
shut down its London and San Francisco offices, and from the outside appeared to on the verge of collapse. Maybe things are turning around. Earlier this year, the company’s current CEO Kerry Trainor told Music Business Worldwide
that the company did achieve a few months of cash flow positivity. I heard similar news around cash flow and that the company is even breaking even at this point.
A reason for better news is around users of the platform seeing increased monetization. Purely anecdotal, but before I got the premium version of the platform earlier this summer I was drowning in advertisements in a way I never felt after years of using the platform. Perhaps the uptick in ads and increased usage of the artist side features is leading to higher payout at the moment.
Now the one other trend I’ve heard directly and even passively noticed is younger acts preparing sooner to make the leap to Apple Music and Spotify. A few years ago artists could, and some certainly still do, completely exist exclusively on SoundCloud; but now it appears acts are more willing to spread their music across platforms, where they know they’ll also be paid for their efforts. That necessarily isn’t a bad thing. SoundCloud, through its marketing and rise of acts like Lil Pump and Juice WRLD, still rightfully holds a reputation for where artist careers organically begin.
(Obviously the SoundCloud Top 50 charts are dominated by a handful of labels and weird SEO tracks
, but let’s not ruin the fun)
What I wonder about SoundCloud is how it’ll continue to appeal to artists and making sure the next generation of acts don’t start splitting time between SoundCloud, YouTube, Apple Music, Spoitfy, etc. Instead of an artist have 10 songs that are exclusively on SoundCloud, their digital discography across platforms starts to look the same. That will slowly just push artists and fans towards the bigger platforms and I’m not quite sure where that leave SoundCloud in the end. Now I’m spinning out a worse case scenario but if artists and labels are seeing more money flow in their direction on other platforms, then that’s a concern I’d certainly hold.
I guess this just gets back to the question of how many different apps to people want to use for music consumption. I hop between YouTube Music, SoundCloud, Apple Music, and Spotify, but I can’t be norm? Can I? That’s why I do think about as increasingly streaming is the default way to consume music people will begin shaking off apps that can’t provide unique content. Perhaps that could actually be to SoundCloud’s advantage with its endless library of unofficial and hard to find music, perhaps.