Business News Digital Legal Top Stories

SoundCloud amends its Premier contract following criticism

By | Published on Tuesday 30 October 2018


SoundCloud has rewritten the contract that accompanies the monetisation programme it offers DIY artists. Or, officially speaking, it has “clarified [and] removed elements” of the contract it had previously written. This follows criticism of the terms it was offering under its SoundCloud Premier scheme.

Previously, monetisation – ie sharing in advertising and subscription income – was only available to DIY artists on an ad hoc and invite-only basis. But earlier this month the programme was rolled out to all musicians with a SoundCloud Pro account.

Then last week The Verge ran a piece criticising the terms and conditions that accompany that programme. It raised various concerns, particularly in relation to a clause that says that anyone participating in the scheme must give up the right to sue over any previous unlicensed distribution of their content on the SoundCloud platform.

The tech site quoted one entertainment lawyer as saying it was “unusual, at best, for a platform to open their terms and conditions with a provision that requires the artist to entirely release it of all prior violations and infringements committed by that platform”.

SoundCloud initially insisted that the deal it was offering DIY artists was fair and in line with – if not better – than industry standards. However, yesterday it announced it had now amended the terms and conditions of its Premier programme to deal with The Verge’s specific concerns.

It wrote in a blog post: “We’ve … received feedback that some language in the original programme agreement was too broad, and we want to avoid any doubt around your rights and how we run the programme. Our team reviewed the agreement, and we’ve clarified or removed elements that may be unclear or not relevant to the open service we have now”.

The removals include the clause regarding any future legal action over any alleged past copyright infringement, which SoundCloud said was a hangover from earlier agreements on which these terms are based. It confirmed that the review had resulted in the “the removal of the outdated covenant not to sue language that was part of our previous invite-only agreement”.

SoundCloud stressed that the amendments to its contract don’t actually change the core deal it is offering artists who participate in the Premier programme, in terms of what rights they are granting, how income is shared, and how and when artists are paid.

It then concluded: “SoundCloud is and will always be a creator-first platform. We’re committed to building industry-leading products and services for you to share, connect and grow your career. As part of that commitment, we’ll always take feedback and respond as quickly as we can to keep improving the platform for you”.

For its part, The Verge has been through the revised contract and says that SoundCloud “has revised every major contentious point listed [in our] original report”.