Yes, you heard it right! SoundCloud goes premium, the Spotify way and every other music streaming services. A recent news update rightly mentioned that “the most unusual company in streaming music launched a very conventional subscription service on Tuesday.”In an extremely unexpected but highly interesting development, Soundcloud finally came up with its premium subscription service. This is a $9.99 tier ($12.99 on iOS) service, currently only in the US. The news is both encouraging as well as disappointing.
Soundcloud has a well-defined market niche with a potential to be a platform with a completely fresh approach to monetizing streaming music. But it is meagre for a giant with such potential when we consider $9.99 freemium model.
Let us now check the implications of this interesting development on Soundcloud as an entity as well as global online music distribution as a whole:
Compromising the artist-first experiences: Where Soundcloud’s competitors are mostly direct streaming; Soundcloud is, in essence, an artist-to-fan platform. Usually, streaming services like Spotify are nothing but music-stores where music is uploaded for people to get music as a service or even a utility. Well, Soundcloud is no different, but it is unique in the sense that artists here connect directly with their fans.
For such a unique concept which engages people a $9.99 freemium model is actually nothing. Soundcloud is more like a platform where fans gather to engage with their favourite artists rather than browsing random stuff and listening to music.
A platform with not the usual content: Soundcloud’s strength as an engaging platform lies in the music that is exclusive and not found elsewhere. This all makes Soundcloud such a valuable entity in the music industry. And, most of the music on Soundcloud is not covered in major record label licenses.
This is unique for Soundcloud and other players who are trying to build a business around this type of non-traditional content. Even players like Dubset hasn’t yet succeeded to get a full suite of licenses in place.
Undoubtedly Soundcloud had to work to get licenses in place. The platform traded on record labels’ goodwill for long enough. But this current development is not expected to maximize Soundcloud’s huge potential. Now let’s cross the fingers and hope this is simply a progressive release, paving the way for a set of products that fit Soundcloud.