Soundcloud: If Only Playing By the Rules Wasn’t Such a Drag

The daringest startups break all the rules, and people start music companies to shake things up.

But sooner or later, growing music startups find themselves bowing to the music industry’s maze of complicated rules.  Everyone needs to get paid, but from the

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perspective of the entrepreneur and music fan, this can be such a buzzkill.  And, it’s rarely factored into ambitious models and ideas.

And so it is with Soundcloud, a seriously grown-up destination that can no longer evade detection from large rights owners.  Just recently, the group tapped Audible Magic to scan its collections for copyrighted works, and that has introduced a lot more DMCA takedowns and copyright policing.

And how will that affect the delicate ecosystem?  “SoundCloud’s decision to use Audible Magic points to a larger question: How big can a music-hosting service get while still supporting DJs and remixers?” Miles Raymer posed in a great piece for the Chicago Reader.  “Is it possible for a site large enough to show up on the radar of the major labels to avoid accepting the majors’ strict-constructionist views of copyright?”

The problem is that DJs oftentimes embed small, altered clips of copyrighted content into a mix, perhaps with some notion of fair use in mind.  Lawyers and labels sometimes laugh at those interpretations, and the stretch that fair use definitions get.  But Soundcloud appears to be letting rightsholders call the shots on what constitutes a violation, instead of getting into a sticky referee position.  Whether that alienates DJs and producers – the first-moving backbone of SoundCloud – remains the next question.

13 Responses

  1. Anonymous


    I say; screw samples and the unimaginative wannabes who use them.

    • Anonymous

      Hell yeah. Also, screw anyone with music in the keys of D minor, E minor or F. So boring.

  2. @Valleyarm

    What happens when you put someone else’s content on Soundcloud?

  3. @Dementio13

    Paul F
    Some serious implications for Soundcloud users and what constitutes “fair use” of copyright material?

  4. @MakeItInMusic

    Make It In Music
    This happened to me today
    It’s going to ruin Soundcloud for the DJ’s – they all use copyright stuff in their mixes!

  5. @AndiDurrant

    Andi Durrant
    This is the reason I can’t put the radio shows up on Soundcloud anymore – copyright issues

  6. @AndiDurrant

    Andi Durrant
    This is the reason I can’t put the radio shows up on Soundcloud anymore – copyright issues

  7. @fugamusic

    Some serious implications for Soundcloud

  8. @wahwah45s

    Wahwah45s Interesting – have any of you using soundcloud for mixes felt the effect of this yet?

  9. Andre

    I’ve had a few songs pulled down. One of which was an unauthorized remix, or what’s called an ‘edit’ in the DJ/producer community.

    While I understand that SoundCloud must (and is smart to) play by the DMCA rules, it seems to me that pre-emptive takedowns (those not triggered by rightsholders themselves) runs a serious risk of alienating SoundCloud’s most loyal and active user base.

  10. @LMPRecordings


    This is the reason I can’t put the radio shows up on Soundcloud anymore

    • guy mccreery

      I’ve been using soundcloud since it started in 2007. For rights holders, particularly artists and small independent labels, soundcloud will remain a vital resource.

      Regarding fair use and the DMCA, in my view it’s for the rights holders to judge whether there is any value in how a particular dj or producer is using their content, without permission.

      I think Soundcloud was right to partner with a service like Audible Magic. It’s fine with me for djs and producers to use my content without having to seek prior permission from me, and then for me to get alerts from Audible Magic or Soundcloud. This gives me the chance to hear my content used as the dj or producer intends and then for me to make a judgement on that basis.

      • Andre


        so you’re saying you get an alert from SoundCloud that allows you to instruct SoundCloud to either permit the use or take your track down? I don’t think that’s how it works . . .

        I was under the impression that once a track is scanned by Audible Magic, any use of that track by someone other than the listed rightsholder will receive a take-down notice . . . with the only option for that non-rightsholder being to issue a counter-notice . . .