The following guest retort comes from the founder and CEO of JTV Digital, Jeremie Varengo. It’s a direct response to this post from Songflow CEO Thomas van Wijk, who flatly questions whether SoundCloud is helping musicians at all.
Just like Thomas, I like SoundCloud a lot.
But I felt compelled to write this post as a reply to Thomas’ arguments against the usage of Soundcloud for the indie artist. (@Thomas, no ill feelings at all, I just wanted to express my point of view which is obviously different than yours!)
In my opinion, SoundCloud is a great music discovery service and also a toolbox for the artists, record labels, and producers that use it.
Please allow me elaborate a bit on this:
1. There’s *never enough* music
We all live and breathe music, always. Music is everywhere: in the streets, on TV, on the radio. Nowadays, the place where kids listen to music is the web.
In that light, SoundCloud is great for discovering new music, including totally unknown material you’d never have a chance to listen to anywhere else.
And, since SoundCloud is a free platform, people/artists/everybody can upload any type of sounds, noises, music, or anything.
(Even though users can sign up for paying plans, I don’t believe the majority of users actually pay for using Soundcloud (please correct me if I’m wrong)).
So yes, the direct consequence is that there’s a lot of crap out there. BUT, there are plenty of great musical pieces to discover.
For record labels, music producers, audio engineers or artists, Soundcloud is also a toolbox.
You can share tracks or stems privately, and for free. And there are multiple applications to this:
(a) for the audio mastering engineer, sending the mastered tracks to clients for approval
(b) for the record labels, producers and artists: exchange on demo material / versions or unfinished tracks for review
(c) for the musicians working from different places in the world (or in a given country): share their stems, get feedback from other band members…
The possibilities are endless.
2. Artists can make money on SoundCloud.
Soundcloud won’t make you rich, at least not directly.
(but maybe it’ll make you famous!)
(a) The Soundcloud player allows you to add your buy links.
What other services offers the option to listen and browse a complete track, then get the option to purchase it, without being annoyed by unsolicited audio or visual ads? For artists who want to tease their upcoming album or single, they can (for example) offer an excerpt or a few tracks exclusively on SoundCloud. Then, by using the “buy links,” fans will reach the iTunes pre-order page.
(b) Then there is the question of the “royalties” (royalties as a generic term here):
In terms of artists royalties: no, you won’t get any since SoundCloud is a free service and there are no ads. However, we could ask the question of whether or not the artists should receive a percentage on the paying subscribers fees. But how would you calculate this? It sounds a little nightmarish!
In terms of performance and mechanical royalties: in theory, there should be some. For an unknown reason (to date), SoundCloud does not seem to be paying the collecting societies (PROs, HFA… etc.) I have reached out to SACEM (since I’m French, sorry for this!) and SoundCloud to find out.
To be continued…
3. SoundCloud lets artists reach out to the WORLD
Unlike Spotify, Deezer, Rdio or any other streaming service, SoundCloud does not suffer from territorial limitations. Anyone can access the service, from anywhere (I haven’t tested SoundCloud from North Korea, but who knows?)
As a listener, this is a relief since you can get access to a huge library of music (some numbers were already provided in the initial post), for free, anytime, anywhere.
Which means that as an artist, wherever you are living – Africa, India, Europe, USA – you can get your music uploaded, for free, and reach millions of potential listeners.
You will not be excluded because you live in a country where there aren’t any digital distribution services available.
The intial post mentioned solutions, but I’ll go for improvements since there is no “problem” here imho, so no “solution” is required.
(a) To be fair, SoundCloud should be paying their fees to collecting societies so that songwriters can get their legally owed share.
(b) SoundCloud should be easier to use for newbies, the process is sometimes tedious and the user interface can sometimes be a bit confusing.
Anyway, with JTV Digital we are working on connecting our digital distribution platform to SoundCloud via their API, which would allow all our clients to get their sounds to SoundCloud as easily as if they were pushing their songs to iTunes, Spotify and others.
(And to be fair, I should mention that CDBaby already offers this option – so let’s do it as well since it’s a great feature!)
I hope you will consider a completely different perspective on SoundCloud, and embrace the possibilities!