Written by Camden Cassels
SoundCloud continues to support the interests of the independent artist. This past week, the streaming platform announced that they will implement a new feature that will allow artists to upload music universally to Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, and other services. What does this mean for the streaming landscape? How will this affect artists and listeners? Here’s what you need to know:
The label “SoundCloud Rapper” may start to hold some more weight. Last Tuesday, SoundCloud announced that they are diving head first into distribution, a move that has the power to change the landscape of how people discover the music of smaller, independent artists. Under the new beta rollout, thousands, potentially millions of artists will be able to upload their tracks to the world’s largest music providers working strictly through their SoundCloud account.
With this new distribution arm, SoundCloud users who pay for SoundCloud Pro or Pro Unlimited will have the ability to put their music not only on SoundCloud but on all of the biggest streaming services. Platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music, Amazon Music, Pandora, Instagram, Facebook, iHeartRadio, Tidal, “and all other current and future services” are all included in potential upload options according to SoundCloud. SoundCloud will serve as the legs to push music onto every platform that currently exists, and any future platform.
This is a massive undertaking and a huge win for the music discovery of artists. A few modest requirements exist that users must clear before becoming eligible for SoundCloud distribution services. First, users must pay the premium SoundCloud fee, which millions already do. The SoundCloud Pro package costs $72 annually, and the new distribution deal allows these users to submit one song to all streaming services. The Pro Unlimited package costs users $144 annually and allows for unlimited distribution of their music.
Users hoping to distribute their music must also be at least 18 years old, have full copyright ownership, and have at least 1000 song plays in the past month. After checking these boxes, any artist can share their music. Last Wednesday, SoundCloud emailed all eligible users to inform them that their music was ready to be distributed to all other platforms.
What makes this announcement more surprising and exciting are the benefits to the artist. SoundCloud has announced that users will receive 100% of streaming revenues earned from the other platforms, and they have full control over describing their own music. Artists can personally upload their preferred song title, genre, album, and artwork, allowing them to choose what the songs will look like and where they’ll be found. Artists can also opt for an immediate upload or schedule a future release date.
This new distribution service will also hold great advantages for SoundCloud. With this new service, many SoundCloud users will be incentivized to purchase the premium package. Also, any artist who consistently uploads music to SoundCloud will now have dozens of other platforms where their music can be discovered.
The distribution feature may also signal a shift in SoundCloud’s focus. In the past, SoundCloud has attempted to compete with giants like Spotify and Apple Music for listeners. Now, the company seems to be taking a more artist-driven approach. If SoundCloud can successfully serve as the go-to company for the independent artist, they could crack open the competition. Rather than compete for song plays within their platform, they look to be focusing on attracting smaller artists who will flock to SoundCloud, pay the premium fee, and have access to all major streaming services.
The new SoundCloud distribution service highlights the continued change across the music industry. Whereas in the pre-Internet days, only those who paid for studio time could reach the masses, streaming has broken down the walls between the artist and the public. Spotify ventured into similar territory last year when they launched “Spotify For Artists,” which allowed artists to upload their music directly to Spotify.
However, SoundCloud is the first company that will allow independent musicians to distribute their music across every possible music streaming service. SoundCloud CEO Kerry Trainor states, “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.”
SoundCloud has made one thing very clear: The future of music is to allow independent artists to be heard and discovered, and it has never been easier to discover music than right now.