By Kendra Sells
Originally published on April 11, 2016.
We’ve always known SoundCloud to be an essential platform for underground artists and labels to share their music free of charge. With the installation of SoundCloud Pro, a paid monthly subscription for artists to post certain tracks on spotlight and track where their content is being played, the free platform began to separate those who pay from those who don’t.
Recently, SoundCloud launched their monthly subscription service called SoundCloud Go, which offers ad‐free listening, and offline streaming, much like competitors Apple Music and Spotify. Unfortunately, such new installations take away from the free experience. If members continue to listen for free they face locked tracks which can only be previewed for 30 seconds before being prompted to subscribe to SoundCloud Go, and of course, advertisements throughout their streaming.
So what does this mean for artists? SoundCloud has sensed a decline in its users, and it may be safe to predict even more abandoned users with these new blocks on what was once free music. If users are leaving SoundCloud, than many artists who hustle for plays through the website will, too, lose potential fans. Not only that, but artists who are subscribed to both SoundCloud Pro and SoundCloud Go are essentially paying money to SoundCloud while their music is blocked from users who aren’t paying for the service. The future success of artists on SoundCloud then relies on the amount of fans who subscribe to SoundCloud Go, which sounds a little risky given that users were comfortable with the free streaming and accessibility to SoundCloud before the platform made this change.
Nick Higgins, an avid SoundCloud user and student at Texas State believes SoundCloud Go is a no‐go. He says “It would be harder to become more popular with ads and less convenience. It’s a shame Soundcloud is selling their soul, as many artists do today, they should actually be in it for the music and the love of the art.”
Can we blame SoundCloud, though? Since it’s conception, SoundCloud has been free, but the website is now far too big to make as little money as it does. In the past years, the streaming service has been struggling with high debt, so it is imperative they find a way to make enough money to keep running. Though SoundCloud is searching for a steady way to bring in revenue, they may face a rough transition from a completely free service to one much like Spotify and Apple Music, which many SoundCloud users are already paying for.
San Marcos rapper Ill‐Lit said “SoundCloud was always a place to be discovered by music lovers who love underground or unheard artists who don’t really get limelight shine. I think it will make it harder for people to get access to that now. I’m at a point in my music career where I just post free material on SoundCloud and put the rest elsewhere (iTunes and Spotify.) Unless SoundCloud Go goes on to be a really powerful platform, I’ll probably post on other streaming sites that are free and ad free.”
Although SoundCloud Go may sound like a bust, the features it has to offer artists are pretty beneficial. For subscribers of SoundCloud Go, lesser known artist’s music can be streamed after the music of major labels, so when letting the music run there are far more chances to come across something new and underground than on the normal free SoundCloud. For now, only time will show us how SoundCloud Go will change the future of music sharing and streaming.