Every Laid Off Soundcloud Employee Just Got a $10,000 Check

Down on your luck after losing your job at SoundCloud? WeTransfer will gladly give you $10,000 to run with a new idea.

Several weeks ago (and without warning), SoundCloud’s CEO Alexander Ljung suddenly let go of 173 employees.  Now, WeTransfer’s President has the offer of a lifetime for these ex-employees: $10,000 to start something entirely new.

At an all-hands meeting, SoundCloud’s co-founders admitted that they knew months in advance about the layoffs.  Rumors quickly circulated that the company had 50 days left of cash to survive.

To help ex-employees cope with the dismissals, a public spreadsheet appeared on Google.  The document, titled Hire a SoundClouder, contained the names of the fired employees, their skills, and their location.  When the list went live, it contained information on 150 ex-employees.  Top tech companies, including Adobe and Twitter, added their contact information, along with upbeat messages, including “good luck guys!”

On June 20th, Digital Music News reported that thirty-two employees had already found new jobs.

Damian Bradfield, the president of WeTransfer, also saw the Hire a SoundClouder document.  While speaking with a journalist at the Tech Open Air Conference in Berlin, a more radical idea came to him.  He could help each recently fired employee with $10,000.

Once he got back to Los Angeles, Bradfield sent each employee an e-mail with the special offer.  It reads,

[W]e’d like to prevent you from just simply ‘getting a job’.

“Why?  What’s wrong with a job?  Nothing.  It’s just that you might stray from your original mission to change the way we consume or create music – an endeavor that made SoundCloud unique in the world of tech.

“So we’d like to make you an offer.  $10,000 to start something.  This is not a loan or equity exchange.

“What we would like to see is a proposal for something you could design, build or manage that could be the new mail-order record club, SoundCloud or iTunes.

In an open letter posted on Medium, he explained the reasoning behind the idea.

 “What if every single one of those 173 people had a genius idea?  Would we have to fund them all?  Maybe.  To be honest, we weren’t sure.  We had heard rumors that around 35 had already found work… We’d email each of the 173 SoundCloud employees and offer them $10,000  —  not as a loan or an investment but a gift.”

Damian Bradfield ended his letter emphasizing that his company won’t look for a profit.  Rather, as WeTransfer has become a profitable company, he wants to see ex-employees create something brand new.

“We want people to create.  What could be better?  We want to see amazing proposals.  Start something — that’s what we’re saying.  We’ll do whatever we can to help, but we aren’t VC’s.  This isn’t an investment.  It’s not a loan.  It’s an opportunity.  We aren’t trying to compete and don’t want to own anything.  It’s a chance to have some fun.”

WeTransfer has since posted a document on their website outlining the $10,000 offer for former SoundCloud employees.  You can check it out here.  You can also read the open letter here.


Image by Chris Potter (CC by 2.0)

6 Responses

  1. bc

    Misleading headline.

    Every ex-soundcloud employee didn’t just get a $10k check. In fact none of them have just gotten a $10k check. They only get the check if their idea clearly passed some level of approval.

    • Don't worry, I was tricked too

      The title of the article would not have baited enough people if it read, “WeTransfer offering $10K as seed money for development of good ideas for fired SoundCloud Employees”.

  2. Paul Resnikoff

    Guys, this is the easiest $10,000 I’ve seen in a long time. It’s not a loan. It’s not for equity. It’s just… $10,000.

  3. Tony Russo

    Hi, my is Tony Russo, l am one of your artists, Thanks to you l am being looked at by a major record label, my hits are very high on SoundCloud, and would like to know if you are really closeting your very big companies. Please email me at strusso16145&yahoo.com Thanks Tony.

  4. Jim

    Somebody needs to put a website up there, an app or a suite of apps which has, as its center, the ability for consumers to make micropayments when they stream a video or a song.

    The consumers register for an account, make a one-time payment of money to the website, no monthly, open ended obligations, and when the consumers click on a video or audio stream, money, or points, are deducted from the account.

    It really shouldn’t be that complicated to do, technically, When Spotify code shows up on Facebook, audio or video won’t play unless you’re logged into Spotify. They’ll give you 30 seconds of it. So, the Spotify code can go anywhere, pretty much, but you can’t get the content unless you’re signed in to Spotify.

    What I’m suggesting would be similar to that, except not only do you have to be logged in, you have to have money in your account, in order to view the video or listen to the audio. Or, actually, buy anything at all.

    The reason why people aren’t clicking on a video for a penny or a quarter is credit card fees. You’re not spending money when you click on something, you already spent the money when you registered, so there are no fees from credit card companies or paypal, except the fee when you give the site/app a chunk of money for points to be spent over the course of time.

    Bands would love this. And this would be very popular. Spotify and youtube are not the ideal solutions for the bands. What does youtube pay a band for a view of their video? Around 1/10th of one penny. Let’s say that the standard, normal rate for a video is 5 cents. Let’s say the bands get 4 cents. The bands are very happy. The bands will copy the url or the code they need, and they will plaster their facebook walls with opportunities for their fans to give them money.

    To bands, this would be like myspace, which bands really liked, some a huge amount, but much better. The point of this would not be to have a complete database of all music or be the hugest generic music site, but to get bands a whole lot more than they’re getting right now. A band with fans would be able to get their fans to sign up and click, if they want to watch the video. Bands will want to premiere all their videos on this site/app, as they’re getting 4 cents, not 1/10th of a cent. Perhaps videos cost a quarter the first day. After a while, they’ll look at what they’re getting from this site/app, and what they’re getting from Spotify and Youtube, and say, you know, we really don’t need them all that much, so we’re going to yank 90% of our content from Youtube. Youtube can contain our official videos, quality live content, and everything else will be on new site/app, where we’re getting paid for everything. Youtube is currently, and going forward, probably, a good way to reach people. And the singles will be there. Same with Spotify. But bands will be making more with the prepaid/micropayments/points system site/app than they are currently making with Spotify and Youtube. Currently, acts are making some money from youtube. Pretty much everything is there. Hundreds of live versions of everything, all recorded material. Fans who are digging deep watching numerous live concerts have already been reached. Bands do make money when someone watches a fan shot live video. But bands don’t really love that there is all that fan shot video there, they like the money part. And it’s not that much money. The fan shot video would go to new site/app. The fans can make money, too. Maybe the fan gets a percentage of the typical performers share, after all, that specific material that the site/app consumer is clicking on wouldn’t exist without the specific fan shooting that specific video. It’s more content for fans to click on, money that super fans are giving to their favorite acts. Bands should love that.

    Maybe the x Soundclouders can do that.

    At some point, some people in charge of music somewhere decided that people didn’t want to pay for music any more.

    This is not true. People decided that, because napster or pirate bay 1) were just as easy if not easier, than paid downloads and 2) (and this is important) the record labels were not giving the money to the artists. People do not feel all that bad about not giving record labels their money, because record labels are notorious for not paying their acts. And when people say “I’m going to download everything for free” they also often say “and that will free up more money for shows, where the money is going to the act, and merch at shows, where the money is going to the act.” And free downloads = more money from shows, directly to the act and the venue, and less money to record companies. Which is fine with people who don’t love record labels, who are often ripping off their favorite acts.

    You get every band who would rather get 20 of 25 cents for a view of a video premiere, who aren’t perfectly content with 1/10th of a cent. There should be a lot of bands in that category. Almost all. And you have them say “hey fans, we get 80% of everything you’re spending. We love this. We’ve never had a better deal anywhere, if you’re going to spend money on us, this is a great way to do it.”

    The record industry never understood, too, that each of the new methods to distribute music have been easier and easier and cheaper and cheaper to copy. Yet they rushed to try to kill those hard to duplicate formats. Replace unduplicatable vinyl with CDs, which at the time were not easy to duplicate, but if they had looked ahead a bit, should’ve been foreseeable . And now they’re trying to set up a system where music is paid for like a muzak service. But what they should be doing is going, “ok, we know you get it. You were willing to pay $10 in the 1970s for something you couldn’t make yourself at home. But now it’s easier to just click on a picture of a magnet than it is to buy something. Maybe – since you know that the music you’re downloading cost nothing to reproduce, and it deprives no one of that content – Maybe, we start charging less for downloads.

    Who decided that when it started getting hard to sell CDs at $15, that everyone should just accept that less that a penny a play was the new standard, that consumers are going to pay $10 a month for everything, when a downloaded album would cost more than $10? If someone is thinking about getting rid of downloads in favor of streaming, you might get a different result if the album was less than $5. “People like streaming?” Well, they might prefer streaming to paying over $10 for an album that it would be easier to just download for free.

    With site/app, you can have downloads alongside streams, it would be an effortless experience to download if you have money in the account. Any type of digital content could be streamed or downloaded. When acts start to see what kind of money they’re making, they will want to make a lot more content. I would think that live streaming – similar to facebook live – but maybe 10 points a minute, where a point is 1/10th of a penny – so, a penny a minute, and 60 cents a hour. Someone like Taylor Swift could rake in huge money by charging a penny a minute to watch her go about her day. Let’s say 1% of facebook fans would participate in this. Taylor Swift has 75 Million facebook fans, that would be 750K that would participate. How much would they participate, how much money could one superfan spend? .60 an hour x 8 hours = 4.80 a day. 365 days $1752 a year. How many superfans would Taylor Swift need to make $10 Million? 5,707. 5,707 of 75 Million, that’s 1 in 10,000. More likely, though would be fewer live feeds, for something particularly interesting or planned. For most acts, having the camera on them all the time isn’t necessary. Any type of digital content could be downloaded or streamed.