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SoundCloud | What it is, History, Features, Monetization and Subscription Services

Sunday, 14 October 2018
SoundCloud | What it is, History, Features, Monetization and Subscription Services
Any artist that uploads his or her music to SoundCloud should also be looking for how to monetize SoundCloud.
Music is now more of a career and many people are making good money off their music without even getting signed to record labels. Although record labels will help you to promote your music, being an Indie artist also has its own benefits.
SoundCloud and YouTube are two amazing platforms you should start using as an artist because they will help your music get into the faces of music lovers. We have earlier shared a post on all you need to know about creating and monetising a YouTube channel, so today we'll be sharing another special of earning as an artist by uploading your music to SoundCloud.

What is SoundCloud

SoundCloud is an online music sharing or audio distribution platform that enables its users to upload, promote and share their original music files. It was founded in Berlin, Germany by Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss on August 2007 but has spread all the world with more than 40 million registered users and 175 million monthly visitors.
The popular music distribution platform was originally created to enable musicians collaborate by easing or smoothing the sharing of recordings. It was however transformed into a music publishing tool for music distribution and began challenging the dominance of Myspace.
Over the years, SoundCloud has progressed from a few thousand monthly users to more than a hundred million users, with over a 40 million registered accounts. But the music platform didn't just rise, like every other business, it passed through some things, both good and bad and we'll share them below:

History of SoundCloud

  • It was established in August 2007 by Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss
  • The SoundCloud website was launched in October 2008
  • SounCloud received a €2.5 million Series A funding from Doughty Hanson Technology Ventures in April 2009
  • SoundCloud had its first 1 million users in May 2010
  • 10 million US dollars was received by SoundCloud in its Series B funding from Index Ventures and Union Square Ventures
  • On June 15th, 2011 the number of SoundCloud's registered users hit 5 million and companies like Guy Oseary and Ashton Kutcher invested on it
  • On May 2012 SoundCloud's users increased to 15 million with 1.5 million active users per month
  • On December 2012, a new APN was released and it improved the mobile usability of the platform. Features like site navigation and concurrent listening were also added and creation of personal collections also became possible. This however wasn't welcomed by many of the users as some expressed dissatisfaction with the change.
  • On the same 2012, SoundCloud had more than 180 million monthly views with an average upload of 10 hours of contents per minute
  • Twitter on March 2014 announced their interest in partnering with SoundCloud in the development of its first integrated music app. However, the partnership didn't succeed as SoundCloud wasn't able to accommodate licensed contents because of their lack of necessary arrangements with music labels.
  • The number of registered users in SoundCloud increased to 40 million in 2013 and an average of 20 million new users were joining the platform monthly.
  • On January 2013, the management of SoundCloud announced that they had commenced negoations with major music companies in regards to the copyrighted materials that were uploaded by their users.
  • After the announcement, around 60 million US dollars was raised which resulted in a 700 million US dollars valuation. According to sources, these was to avoid facing similar issues that YouTube faced when they had to take down many copyrighted videos from the platform.
  • Twitter on May 2015 wanted to acquire the music sharing platform for 2 billion dollars but once again, the deal wasn't successful. This according to some media sources, was because the 'the numbers didn't add up'.
  • On the 26th of September 2016, Spotify announced their interest in buying SoundCloud but it was again abandoned.
  • SoundCloud announced that they'd be closing their London and San Francisco offices in July 2017, thereby laying off 173 out of the 420 employees of the platform. According to the, the remaining employees would be operating out of offices in New York and Berlin. This was to enable them maximise or become more profitable.
  • A new SoundCloud CEO, Kerry Trainor was announced in August 2017 and he replaced the former CEO, Alex Ljung. Kerry Trainor before the appointment was the former CEO of Vimeo.

Features of SoundCloud

SoundCloud has many amazing features which makes sharing and distribution of music very possible and easy. Some of them include:
  • Ability to access music files via unique urls thereby allowing the uploaded files to be embedded on Facebook and Twitter posts.
  • Widgets are there to make the distribution of music through websites and blogs easy. You can embed the audios by clicking on the share button near each file.
    How to embed SoundCloud audios in a blog or website
    This another reason the SoundCloud is different from MySpace, MySpace doesn't have a share button.
  • Registered users can upload audio of up to 3 hours length and listen to unlimited audios in the platform.
  • Users can create playlists, like specific tasks, follow their favourite artists or other SoundCloud users and repost other people's contents.
  • Artists can make their music available for downloads unlike the YouTube where you'll have to use third-party apps or browsers to download files.
  • SoundCloud renders audio tracts as waveforms and users can post "timed comments" on specific parts of the tract.
  • SoundCloud supports AAC, AIFF, ALAC, AMR, FLAC, MP2, MP3, OGG, WAV and WMA files. It converts them into Opus at 64 kbit/s and MP3 at 128 kbit/s for streaming purposes.

SoundCloud Monetization and Subscription Services

SoundCloud has different subscription services including a free plan and as usual, they all have different limitations. The available subscription services include:
  • SoundCloud Partner: This is a free but limited plan and supports an upload of only 180 minutes of content. It supports basic statistics and reporting like downloads, play counts, comments and likes.
  • SoundCloud Pro: The SoundCloud pro allows users to upload up to 360 minutes of audio and adds additional features like ability to disable comments on music tracts, enhanced analytics an also supports unlimited downloads.
  • SoundCloud Pro Unlimited: The pro unlimited plan costs $15 a month and gives artists unlimited uploads. You'll also in addition get enhanced reports like who's playing or downloading your tracts, which countries play your tracts more, social networks that are providing the best engagements and traffic and the basic features.
  • SoundCloud Go: SoundCloud Go offers an ad-free music experience and integrates licensed music from major labels into the existing, user-uploaded contents. According to the SoundCloud co-founder Eric Wahlforss, this aspect was to differentiate the music sharing platform from other streaming platforms like Apple Music and Spotify because it generally provides a larger library of music than the other competing services.
  • SoundCloud Premier: You can't make money from the Partner, Pro or other plans listed above because no ads will be placed on your tracks. To become eligible for revenue sharing, you need to be at the premier level and it's an invite only service. It is to help artists make money from the music that they upload.

How To Get SoundCloud Premier

Like we earlier said, SoundCloud Premier is an invite only service so there is no application link for now. If you've not yet received an invitation from SoundCloud yet, it'll be best to exercise patience as they'll still get to you.
To check if you're eligible for the SoundCloud premier, you'll need to visit this page and sign into your SoundCloud account.
According to a recent news in the SoundCloud blog, to become eligible you must be an independent creator and a Pro or Pro Unlimited subscriber. For now, the platform is only open to original  music contents but they might soon expand to other types of contents.
For you to be invited, you need to have a minimum o 5,000 plays in the past month from SoundCloud monetized countries like United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, The Netherlands and France. I don't know if [plays from countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa and other African countries will be considered soon but we'll keep you updated whenever it happens.
They recommended that as an artist, you should keep on creating and promoting your original contents as you might receive an invitation email soon.

Other Platforms To Monetize Your Music

The following platforms can help you monetize your music:
  • RouteNote.com
  • Jamvana.com
  • Create.tv (CreateMusicGroup.com)
  • TuneCore.com
  • Fullscreen.com