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SoundCloud adds distribution to other streaming services to Pro offering

By | Published on Wednesday 20 February 2019


Do you remember when streaming services streamed and distribution companies distributed? They were simpler easier times, right? No, not at all, you sad old luddite, get everything in one place, I reckon. Pick a streaming service, upload your tracks, have them distribute your music, use them for all your stats, talk to your fans, monetise your fanbase, plan for your future, maybe they’ll even give you a hat. By which, I mean to say, SoundCloud has added music distribution services to its Pro platform.

Which, according to SoundCloud itself, means that – moving forward – “creators monetising original music on SoundCloud can seamlessly add distribution into all major music services including Amazon Music, Apple Music, Instagram, Spotify, Tencent, YouTube Music and more – all directly from their SoundCloud account”.

SoundCloud has always been different to the other audio streaming services, of course, in that it allows any artist or audio creator to directly pump their tracks into its system. That was a result of the company starting off with a different business model to the likes of Spotify and Apple Music, before subsequently moving into the more conventional streaming space by signing licensing deals with the record labels and music distributors.

Those deals required SoundCloud to start monetising the audio on its platform through ad sales and later subscriptions. That monetisation has been slowly extended to those creators who still directly upload their content into the SoundCloud system – rather than making it available via a label or distributor – with all music creators with a SoundCloud Pro account becoming eligible for monetisation as of last October.

Although that move was in part about allowing DIY creators to also benefit from the monetisation side of SoundCloud, it also arguably made SoundCloud Pro a more attractive proposition. The Pro set up was at the heart of that original business model, whereby creators pay a monthly fee to host more content on the platform and access more data.

Except, of course, because streaming royalties from any one platform tend to be nominal until you are getting significant numbers of streams, upgrading to Pro to access monetisation wouldn’t immediately make financial sense for many creators, unless the other benefits were also attractive. Being able to automatically distribute your music to a plethora of other streaming platforms is a significant extra benefit.

Though it’s interesting that, by boosting the SoundCloud Pro side of the business, arguably the digital firm is removing one of the USPs of its punter-facing subscription service SoundCloud Go. When SoundCloud first launched its rather-late-to-the-party subscription offer, one of the company’s big brags was that – because of all the user-uploading over the years – it had a much bigger catalogue of music than its competitors.

By expanding its creator services so that that audio can now be passed on to other streaming platforms, the consumer-facing product will no longer have that brag.

Though it’s debatable how good a brag it ever really was. Not least because, in more recent years, most savvy new bands – ie the ones you’re most likely to want to listen to – would be getting their music into Spotify and Apple Music – via a DIY distributor like CD Baby, Ditto, Tunecore or Distrokid – at the same time they were uploading it into their SoundCloud account.

By adding distribution services, SoundCloud is now basically going into competition with those DIY distributors. Though more attention will likely be given to the impact SoundCloud’s latest move might have on Spotify and its plans to expand the services it offers creators.

Spotify, of course, is developing a direct-upload tool, allowing artists to directly upload music into its system SoundCloud-style. And, via an alliance with Distrokid, its plan is also to enable artists to use that direct-upload tool to distribute tracks to other streaming services.

SoundCloud will work with music distributor FUGA to offer distribution services to its creators. Those services will come at no extra cost to SoundCloud Pro customers and creators will get 100% of any royalties paid by the other platforms.

Announcing all these distribution fun times, SoundCloud boss Kerry Trainor said: “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. Creators 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”.