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Universal chief comments on SoundCloud talks (a bit)

By | Published on Thursday 30 October 2014


Ah, SoundCloud. What are we to do about SoundCloud? Well, actually, it’s nothing to do with me. Unless the thing to be done about SoundCloud is for you all to tune in to my ThisWeek London Podcast, which is streaming up there on the audio platform right now.

But what about SoundCloud becoming a revenue generating content platform and fan community for labels and publishers and artists and songwriters everywhere?

Well, as previously reported, the digital firm – having failed to find a buyer so that the “how the hell do we make money out of all this?” challenge could be someone else’s problem – is busy trying to get a new ad-system off the ground, and is trying to get the labels to come on board as content partners in order to get a share of that ad cash.

But the labels are holding out for a better deal than SoundCloud has so far been able to offer, stalling things somewhat. And the most recent word on the label talks was that negotiations with the biggest record company of them all, Universal, had now stopped completely.

But good news! Universal top man Lucian Grainge hasn’t yet confined his fluffy SoundCloud to the no-deal-let’s-just-drive-em-out-of-business shelf (currently occupied by an inflatable Grooveshark) which definitely exists in his swish office.

Not at all. He told a Wall Street Journal conference on Tuesday there’s an “opportunity for SoundCloud to create incredible revenue”. It’s just that no one’s worked out quite how yet. But it’s all still to play for in the streaming domain don’t you know. According to Billboard, the Universal big cheese added: “We’re in the experimental phase at the moment. The last two or three years has been about stopping the decline and creating as many platforms and as many services and opportunities to capture money”.

So good news for the SoundClouders. Though it sounds a bit like the firm’s founder Alexander Ljung has already accepted that Universal may not be on board at the start of the next bold chapter of his business venture. “We won’t have everybody in from day one”, he said at the same conference, albeit after declining to specifically comment on UMG talks. “Our intention is to create something that’s valuable for everybody and so valuable that everybody wants to be in. We’re not there yet”.

Nope, we’re not ‘there’ yet. And I’m not sure we’re even on the outskirts of ‘there’, with its industrial estates of hope and low rent housing of joy. But hey, let’s all pass the time on this slow-going autobahn to ‘there’ by listening to this week’s edition of the ThisWeek London Podcast. Now on SoundCloud!