The following article is a hypothetical scenario based around facts and the supposed closure of SoundCloud and what it means for artists and producers that use the platform.
On July 6, 2017 Alex Ljung posted a note on the SoundCloud Blog detailing how "after careful and painful consideration, we took the difficult step to let go of 173 SoundCloud staffers and consolidated the team into two offices: Berlin and New York. We are extremely grateful for the contributions of each and every staff member who will be leaving SoundCloud, and we wish all of them the best. Without them, we would not be where we are today. By reducing our costs and continuing our revenue growth, we're on our path to profitability and in control of SoundCloud's independent future."
On July 12, a post from techcrunch.com detailing that the company only had enough money to maintain for the next eighty days (it was originally stated as fifty). SoundCloud PR rebutted with saying they are fully funded into the fourth quarter. Many other reports came attached with what could be the true nature of what's happening at SoundCloud and it garnered enough attention to have all of Music Twitter in a stir contemplating the fate of the streaming website that's been around since 2007. People were making worst case scenario's, encouraging people to download their favorite songs and making plans of checking where they could post their music next, and preemptively mourning SoundCloud altogether. Days later on July 14, Chance the Rapper tweeted "Just had a very fruitful call with Alex Ljung. SoundCloud is here to stay." this dissuaded and kickstarted it's on fair share of issues that Jordan talked about here but we're here to focus on the worst case scenario for the music company, what if they really did go under in the next fifty to eighty days?
The finality of something is common to deal with in life. We learn about something, grow accustomed to it, eventually settle it into our daily life, and then it goes out with a bang or leaves as quickly as it came. While we have SoundCloud here with us, I wanted to explore the alternate timeline where the post from TechCrunch and the post from one of the founders of SoundCloud signifies the end of the era for the streaming service and wanted to ask both rapper and producer: "What would you do if SoundCloud was meant to shut down in the coming months?" among other things. It's an important question to face for any platform that thrives off of it's users to connect, share, and network their music all across the digital landscape but even moreso for the service that's become so ingrained in how we share music it registers its own brand of SoundCloud related jokes and immediate request for musicians to follow you on.
SoundCloud was the way I initially got into underground artists, explored a community and helped spread songs by friends and discover hidden gems in the form of mixes and songs that you couldn't find anywhere else on the Internet. The platform in my case is used as support system to spread the likes, reposts, and songs of artists that are trying to rap, produce, and podcast there way to the top. It's a place filled with terrible covers or remixes to songs we didn't ask for but it's brought a lot of good along the way. Despite the future of the streaming service being called into question or setting itself up for a rebranding, talking through a worst case scenario with the people that it will affect is important conversation to have.
I scoured the Internet for musicians that wanted to answer four questions about what they think the darkest timeline looks like.
1. If SoundCloud really was on a doomsday clock, how would you as an artist continue to spread your brand and music?
2. What would the loss of Soundcloud mean for artists and producers that are just starting out to you?
3. From the ashes would a new platform come about? Or would you retreat to another thriving platform that seems like a safe bet?
4. What does the loss of SoundCloud mean for other music streaming apps and services and would that create a power vacuum of sorts?
1.There are other streaming sites, (none that I think are better than Soundcloud though.) Bandcamp is a good alternative for original projects. Also since I have the time and resources to build my own site or pay someone to, I don't necessarily have to keep myself at the mercy of other streaming services.
2. Soundcloud's user base is a community. Was moreso a few years ago but I can't think of any other site that gives supporters and artists the ability to interact and support each other. In that, an aspiring beat maker or artist gains support with a simple repost. Soundcloud disappears and you lose out on amazing work.
3. I'm fairly certain something new would pop up that people would gravitate towards. The demand begets the supply.
4. I truly believe Soundcloud is unrivaled as a music streaming service. The need or want to compete with the big guys cost them in a major way but I don't think that Apple Music or Tidal or Spotify can match what Soundcloud offered. And the other alternatives: the AudioMacks and such don't come close.
1. I do a lot of work off the internet. I'm active in my community. I collaborate with musicians i know in real life that can contribute to my growth and vice versa. My "brand" is my humanity and that's not tied to a website. I would continue to develop my artistry and continue to devote myself to building strong concepts to present in whatever medium is available to me.
2. That's where the impact lies. Without soundcloud the game largely goes back to trying for label releases, but there are still other options. It means being more devoted not only to creation but to studying the game and learning how to make moves that will be real steps forward. it'd be an interesting thing to see who's strong enough to continue to push forward through that.
3. I'm not sure what would be considered a "safe bet". I imagine with soundclouds huge user base the majority will either migrate to a new site or split up among different sites gradually.
4. There's already a power vacuum. Even within soundcloud itself. The game is all power and hierarchy now. The time when soundcloud was a safe place to just post experiments and drafts is largely over. No matter the platform, you're fighting to have a strong portfolio of work and (if this is your path) trying to get noticed by platforms and people who will be able to expose you to more people. The power is largely not in the hands of the individual. That's an illusion.
1. I built a connection with my soundcloud fans and sent them unreleased music I have with Snoop and others..lot of my brand is college based and I have a internship at Howard university that helped my SoundCloud a lot.
2. For artists starting out we have to adjust just like when 106 went off the air or when radio fell behind playlists...industry will be fine..I'm indie so we just gonna continue to be creative.
3. I think there are already platforms out there like Audiomack and even Apple and Spotify are trying to do things but to say I won't miss SoundCloud is crazy cuz that's where most my fan base is
4. No power vacuum rap game like the crack game you just supply and demand ...lookout for my single Bad ft. Trina off my album TrapMan on Campus
1. As an artist I feel like the most important thing to have is a balanced following. You don't wanna be the soundcloud guy or the YouTube guy or even the Apple music guy you see it with chance he's catching a lot of backlash from artists and people he's worked with now that he's Apple exclusive. I just feel like basing your entire catalog in 1 area and that being the only place people can find you is very limiting to your potential so I'll just focus on continuing to spread my product through multiple venues and remain consistent in the upcoming year.
2. I mean SoundCloud is easy. Easy to upload easy to track your progress and now easy to make money off it. You got people only getting 10k plays monetizing and getting paid for their plays and I think that is largely hurting soundcloud. Their become a streaming service but they never forced people to pay so now that they're paying people but no one is really paying them except the artists to upgrade their status I think it hurt the company but I mean there is YouTube there is Audiomack soundcloud isn't the end all be all so I don't think it'll hurt upcoming artists if they really workin. But most people ain't workin and that's where the death of soundcloud would help people who are bc over saturation would die off a little. Not a lot but a little.
3. I already know everybody with money either plotting on SoundCloud and their own new service. I personally don't care whatever pops up I'm using it. The more accessible you are the more likely people are to access you lol.
4. As far as other music services obviously 1 of the biggest competitors if not the biggest is failing so I'm sure other streaming services are looking for a way to finesse and become more user friendly to capitalize on that open market.
1. Man... If SoundCloud really was to go I personally feel like a lot of egos will get diminished for starters & I also to push my music, I'd have it out on other platforms such as Apple Music, Spotify, etc. I'd have a specific website & push it all out there.
2. For the loss of SoundCloud I feel too many people rely on it & it's because it's an easy accessible music community. If someone was starting off didn't have they they would need to find other means of putting their music out to the world.
3. I feel something could take SoundCloud's place, but it wouldn't be the same of course, but potentially it could be better we never know. As for other platforms I wouldn't care it "retreating" since I want my music to be as accessible as possible. I'm gonna make sure it's not only 1 place to find my tunes. Can't be a one trick pony out here.
4. I feel like the loss of SoundCloud for other companies it gives them the chance to pick up left pieces from SoundCloud. Not sure how it would be implemented, but I'd imagine what they would do. Maybe give apps like Spotify, Apple Music more of a social setting to kick start an artist's journey on streaming apps. The reason we like SoundCloud is cause it's easy to use, it has the hidden gems, & its a great place to find a mass amount of artist because they're only on there. If big apps took that into account it could be a game changer. Only time will tell though.
1. If SoundCloud was on a doomsday clock I wouldn't be too concerned personally bc I'm slowly transitioning my music to other streaming sites like iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, etc.
2. The lost of SoundCloud to newer artists would mean that they wouldn't have careers or they would not have an outlet to express themselves.
3. After SoundCloud I could see people trying to imitate SoundCloud and fail. It all depends. I would just go back to YouTube.
4. The loss of SoundCloud will affect music streaming as a whole bc it was the first to have a community like feel compared to other streaming sites. That's what made it unique and popular. That's why Apple Music allow remixes of popular songs now. It's all bc of SoundCloud.
1. Honestly didn't use SoundCloud like most people because I hopped on it very late. I was more into bandcamp and selling merch along with my music. There are many brands like YouTube, bandcamp, audiomack, even MySpace still has a music component.
2. I feel the loss of SoundCloud could eliminate that family/collaborative aspect. A lot of cats got close and bonded through collabs and cliques. New artist would have to find their way through these internet streets without having a squad or camp to help boost plays and coverage.
3. I've always been a bandcamp guy since 2010 so I'm always gonna be on there posting my music and merch. I think artists will find a place that better suits them and what they want to accomplish. MySpace ended and we all fled to bandcamp, datpiff, SoundCloud, and all these other platforms. I come from a time where we used z-share to post our tracks to get downloaded and played. We made it work and we're still here today!
4. Honestly I hope it makes business go back to models that help artists SELL THEIR ART! Streaming is great because it's convenient, but fans are out here streaming and not bothering to buy. Ask around and see how many people buy new music anymore...the list will be small and I think that's what's wrong with the current climate. "Why buy when I can stream it for free when I want?" It makes you wonder why even bother selling something if there's unlimited access to it? You don't get paid much from these streaming sites so the artists gets the short end of the stick. So I'm closing I hope there is a change in focus and more people and platforms promote the sale of music over the stream of music.
1. If soundcloud really did die in the 50 days that it did (which i was honestly prepared for) me wanting to be taken more serious as a artist i would put my music up on apple music & spotify, as well as bandcamp & or youtube for visuals & free content i feel as though putting it on apple music would be more beneficial in the long run as well as discontinuing the term Soundcloud rapper or producer and actually being taken seriously as an artist.
2. I'm not going to lie in the beginning of me using SoundCloud it meant a lot to me and was very important for my beginning process of becoming the artist I am today but more and more the longer I am on SoundCloud the more I want to be disassociated with it because of the stigma it carries plus with all the extra ads and changes to that app that were once useful I wouldn't mind Soundcloud being replaced in all honesty.
3. I am honestly not sure what new platform would come about but if there was one to rise I would hope it would be easy beneficial for both listeners and artist.
4. As I said I'm not too aware of other streaming apps other than Apple Spotify and Tidal but I'm sure out of the three of them Apple Music would probably thrive the most out of both of them considering the convenience and cheapness out of all 3.
1. The same money you were paying SoundCloud for premium features, invest that in a running website like wix or squarespace and invest in distribution. $35 dollars a year and you can get on all streaming sites via distrokid.
2. Nothing really. Simply you have to find another platform to host your music. Of course SoundCloud is the most popular so the transition for some will be stressful. Especially if you don't have a solid fan base.
3. I don't believe a new platform will rise. Everyone will either retreat back to bandcamp where they were already hosting purchasable music or use distribution sites like Distrokid.
4. If artists were smart, they'd simply grab a distribution service and release there. Most of the world owns at least one steaming service. That's where they need to be. Except some producers because your music will be taken down and you can get banned. Sampling issues.
1. It'd probably push me to do more physical and in-person stuff rather than digital. I feel like digital domain gives us a comfort zone because it's easier to upload online than get physical copies of our work done.
2. It'd be an opportunity for them to capitalize on other streaming platforms and they'd probably be better off. there's too much politicking with soundcloud sometimes (not that I care) but for the beginning artists, it can be discouraging. they'd be able to focus on how good they are at their craft, and not the numbers so much.
3. I personally would just end up using youtube and the other streaming platforms that I currently use. I have a plan implemented that if soundcloud goes under, I'd be completely okay and people would be able to find my music fairly easy.
4. I don't think it does anything positive or negative for them. Streaming platforms if anything will have one less competitor, therefore focusing the music in one place. People don't buy music so much anymore so this would probably provide an incentive for listeners to actually want to purchase music.
1. I'd go back to Bandcamp in a heartbeat. They have a very supportive business model when it comes to music distribution and merch. Imaginary Form started on Bandcamp so a return wouldn't even be a hassle. We only came to SoundCloud because of its growing popularity for non-artists. The only major gripe I have with the site is its mobile app support and accessibility to guests.
2. In my opinion, the loss of SoundCloud wouldn't affect anyone but the artists who relied on them. The term "SoundCloud rapper" and "bedroom producer" may be degrading to some, but if you relied on exposure through that website only you could be stuck. Having multiple platforms to get your sound across is vital to the expansion of the artistry when it comes to this industry. To make it simple: A&Rs may fuck with SoundCloud for breaking new artists, but they have plenty of other tools to find the people they're looking for because their job can not be limited to one medium.
3. I'd retreat to another established platform unless the new platform has something notable and offers an edge over the competitors today.
4. If anything, people would actually put their music on the major streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify & Tidal. I would love to see more of that, as SoundCloud didn't really generate revenue for musicians.
1. There are more streaming platforms available to me to spread my music across. We have Bandcamp (where you can monetize your work if you want), Audiomack (really my favorite) and I can continue to use twitter to its fullest since it's so instant. My visual is constantly moving on twitter vs youtube. Instagram is my least favorite because they just wanna see pictures and I'm not focused on taking pictures. I just want them to click a link.
2. The loss of SoundCloud for artists would mean that more would have to actually strategically place Music and things surrounding it. Not as rapid fire on dropping music for some. SoundClouds whole thing is that anyone can just sign up and go for it. Get a mic, steal/find a beat, record, then post. That makes it easy for newer artists and producers to have an outlet but if they're fresh out the gate like a couple months then SoundCloud dies off, it won't be that much work to create a YouTube, bandcamp, and audiomack to spread their music the free way. That alone would weed out some only making songs for no reason. They wouldn't wanna put in the work to grow an actual base of listeners.
3. I don't think I'll ever "retreat" to one platform. That would be limiting the reach I can create for myself. There are a few newer platforms people don't know about that seem like they could take on what SoundCloud has done like YungCloud and Cymbal (even though Cymbal really lets you share from other platforms you put your music on and one of them is SoundCloud). I do feel like audiomack could be next up in the next 3 or so years alongside YouTube since they are more established. Having one platform isn't a safe bet for anyone ( look at SoundCloud).
4. The loss of SoundCloud would give some more legroom to other streaming services that would never see more light otherwise. I feel like the music aggregators will become more competitive to get more artist to pay for their music to touch services like Spotify and Apple Music. For the smaller platforms that just means that they could get a bigger user base either temporarily or long term. Most of the other services I named have better layouts in app than SoundCloud. ESPECIALLY for artists. If you've been putting out music on SoundCloud long enough you'll notice the app went from giving u the stats and messages plus view of comments in one app to trying to turn the artists into just listeners. It's not slick. As an artist you have to get a whole second app on your phone just to see who reposts and likes your songs called Pulse. Shits wack. The power vacuum might lead straight into youtube simply because... FREE. Plus YouTube is on our phones, laptops, tablets, and even TV's but you won't be able to really make money off your views unless you pull in over 2 mil a video if that's your focus. Bandcamp for sure will gain some more footing as well.
All I will say is that, Soundcloud wasn't here forever, and it won't stay forever. whenever it actually goes, who knows? But just know, one day it will. artists, the REAL artists will make any situation work in their favor. you have to scorch the Earth for new life to occur, that's just the ways of the world. no pun intended. it may not be the prettiest or most appealing situation to deal with at first glance, but when has change ever been easy to adjust to? When you're left with no other option, you have no choice but to push the boundaries of what is placed in front of you to make a situation work. either that, or lay down, bitch and complain about life not going your way. but then again, if it comes to the later option, you're better off finding a fucking day job.
losing Soundcloud will be detrimental to the the offsprings of Myspace and Youtube; it's one of the only things WE still have left. along with Soundcloud's departure, there will be a mass of us that will be left behind along with the service. the key point of Soundcloud is to connect with one another. it doesn't have to be a clout race or a competition to who can get to who first, if you don't connect, you get disconnected & that's just the way the cookie crumbles. however that just keeps you "here" - which is only half the battle, being genuine and consistent is what keeps the people "there", and that's what's most important. adapt, accommodate, or suffer from the shift.
I'd like to give a huge THANK YOU!!! to all the artists that took the time to give their views on what the darkest timeline for SoundCloud would look like. Everyone I spoke to above has a SoundCloud, Bandcamp, or another music related link so click their names to head to their Twitter and lend an ear!
The post The Hypothetical SoundCloud "Farewell" appeared first on Dead End Hip Hop.