Soundcloud Deserves Credit


Photo by Ryan Howerter, Creative Commons

The SoundCloud logo in the form of a Lego.

Music is a part of everyday life, whether it be in a commercial, on the radio, in a film or show, or even on your phone. Over the years, with technological advancements, a growing number of people debate which of the popular music streaming services are superior, Apple Music or Spotify. While there are many other streaming services  such as YouTube and Pandora, not many think about SoundCloud.

Millions of people subscribe to these different streaming services daily.  As of Feb., 2021, 345 million monthly active users were on Spotify.  Apple Music boasted 72 million subscribers as of June, 2020.  Perhaps most surprisingly, there were 76 millions registered users on SoundCloud as of March, 2021 with 175 million people accessing SoundCloud once a month.

With all of these monthly users why is SoundCloud continuously overlooked? SoundCloud, a German based private music streaming service, was created in 2008 so it isn’t like the platform hasn’t been around long enough to gain recognition. Since 2011, SoundCloud’s revenue, users, monthly listeners, music creators and number of songs have increased at a great rate.

While SoundCloud isn’t a platform that is heavily utilized by mainstream artists, it has been a stepping stone for smaller independent artists, who have mainstream potential, to gain popularity as it is very simple to publish music, unlike platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music.

To publish music on Spotify and Apple Music you must find a distribution service – which is one of the main purposes that a record label serves. As for SoundCloud, anyone can publish their music free of charge with just the click of a few buttons. 

Like Spotify, the free version of SoundCloud runs ads after a select amount of songs played, but with the ability to freely post your music, the fact that there are ads shouldn’t be make or break.

Artists such as Post Malone, XXXTentacion, Ski Mask The Slump God, Juice Wrld, Lil Uzi Vert and many other artists, started their careers on SoundCloud and later made their way to the Billboard Charts and to the top of the music industry. Combined, all of these artists have a total of 131 million monthly listeners on Spotify alone. SoundCloud truly paved the way for many artists to go mainstream.

Another aspect that draws small artists to SoundCloud is the fact that songs do not have to be cleared of copyrighted material before posting. While this may sound like a major problem, many musicians, both mainstream and small, incorporate samples (the reuse of a portion of a sound recording in another recording) into their music. For an artist that is signed to a record label, it is a lot easier to get a sample cleared than it is for a smaller artist with no connections in the music industry. 

For artists looking to put their music on Apple Music and Spotify, their songs must get cleared of copyright before they are able to get their music out to the public. On the other hand, artists and listeners have a much greater selection of music to choose from on SoundCloud compared to the major streaming platforms. 

In March 2021, SoundCloud announced that they are going to pay independent artists based on actual listeners instead of total stream counts which is yet another reason why the platform has been a great place to start for aspiring artists.

At the end of the day music is music and the platform you decide to listen to it on is not that big of a deal. While Apple Music and Spotify are widely considered top tier streaming platforms, SoundCloud deserves credit when it comes to all it has done for smaller artists and the music industry as a whole.