Meet SoundCloud rival Audius, free & anti-takedowns
“It was SoundCloud’s opportunity to lose and now it’s ours,” says Audius CEO Roneil Rumburg. Plenty of musicians and fans are sick of SoundCloud’s expensive hosting costs, haphazard content takedowns and lagging user experience as the site’s status withers. Audius wants to be the opposite, and offer a new home for artists where they’ll eventually earn 90% of revenue earned and the startup itself can’t remove songs.
Today Audius launches its music streaming and free hosting service backed by DJs like deadmau5 and Zed’s Dead, plus $5.5 million in A-list venture capital. Music makers can upload their songs at no cost, and users can browse, follow and get listening recommendations. The catalog is small to start, with just a few hundred artists, but Audius has big plans for how to lure artists choosing between other SoundCloud alternatives, from Mixcloud to YouTube.
The secret sauce is that Audius isn’t just a web and mobile site, it’s an open-source protocol built on the blockchain, not that users need to be versed in cryptocurrency or do anything special to sign up. Audius doesn’t actually host the music, but decentralizes it across independently operated nodes, which it believes will protect it from lawsuits and record label pressure. It’s distributing its own crypto tokens to incentivize artists that join early, as well as the node operators, with the insinuation that these might rise in value if the service grows popular.
Audius is completely free for listening at high-quality 320kbps. For now, artists can’t make money, though many still can’t on SoundCloud. But in early 2020, the startup plans to let artists opt into requiring users to occasionally listen to ads or pay a few dollars per month for an Audius subscription. Ninety percent of revenue will go to the artists and 10% to the node operators, and there are also plans to cut in playlist curators. Audius itself hopes the value of its tokens will rise so it can sell from its stockpile to generate revenue.
“Audius’ dedication to empowering artists through supporting direct relationships with fans, censorship resistance, and fair pay is so important in a time when artists are being mistreated regularly,” writes dance music superstar deadmau5, aka Joel Zimmerman, who’s on the startup’s advisory board. Other artists like Zeds Dead, Mr. Carmack and Rezz have pledged to put some exclusive music on Audius, ranging from finished tracks to rough drafts. They were attracted by the promise of bigger and faster payouts, plus a transparent copyright takedowns process.
The biggest challenge for Audius will be playing catch-up recruiting artists and listeners over a decade after SoundCloud launched and when Spotify already has 108 million paying subscribers from its 232 million users. For now there’s not much special about the user experience, where you can listen to a feed of what you follow or library of saved songs, or check out trending artists and playlists. At least sign up is easier than most blockchain apps, requiring merely an email address or Twitter sign-in, though crypto kids can use MetaMask. The lack of native mobile apps won’t help, though.
All the artists-first philosophy won’t matter if it never gains traction. But if Audius does grow, it has a savvy approach to preventing unnecessary content takedowns. Rumburg claims an estimated 80% of takedowns on apps like SoundCloud and YouTube are not actually infringing copyright, leading to great content disappearing. “Audius doesn’t have the ability to deplatform you or censor you,” says Audius co-founder Forrest Browning.
Audius co-founders (from left): Forrest Browning, Roneil Rumburg
First, because it doesn’t host the songs itself, it will just pass copyright-holder complaints on to the uploaders themselves. Owners can be reassigned the revenue being earned by a song rather than have it taken down. And instead of pulling down a whole DJ set, the rights-holder of a five-minute song in an hour-long mix would get 1/12 of the proceeds. Browning tells me, “A lot of artists are completely fine with their content being remixed or mashed up.”
If disputes aren’t resolved, rights-holders can approach the operators of nodes hosting the music and file a local equivalent of a DMCA takedown request, though the music might still live on other nodes beyond the law. In that case, rights-holders file a complaint to the Audius arbitration committee made up of users. That group can vote on whether a track legally should be removed or its revenue reattributed, and both plaintiffs and committee members must put up a small financial stake they’ll lose if their claim is frivolous or they make erroneous decisions.
We’ll see if this hands-off approach to censorship actually flies with the law. If so, it could give artists confidence in joining Audius that they lack elsewhere. Many are frustrated after constantly having to rebuild their audience on different platforms, from Myspace to iTunes to Spotify to SoundCloud, especially if their tracks are disappearing. One benefit of being open-sourced and decentralized… “Let’s say our company closes up shop in 5 years? Audius and the content will live on forever, as long as folks continue to operate the nodes,” Rumburg explains.
To make sure it stays in business as it stretches its venture funding from General Catalyst and Lightspeed, Audius has plans for additional tools that could make it and artists money. From being able to crowdfund future albums to selling merchandise or VIP experiences, Audius could become a gateway to spending on independent music. It could have to compete with itself, though, since Audius’ on-demand streaming site is just one client built on its open-source protocol. The founders say they hope other people will build Pandora-style radio clients, music discovery apps and more listening options through its APIs.
Rumburg and Browning met the summer after high school at a camp of Stanford admits. Throughout college, the recent graduates got deeper into dance music subgenres by devouring everything on SoundCloud. But watching their favorite artists get music kicked off that app while their DJ friends struggled to break through the algorithms, Rumburg says they wondered “how can we remove the platform from this equation?”
Music businesses aiming to free art from “the man” so often end up becoming him. But by decentralizing control and funneling money directly to creators, Audius may code its way into music culture.
Online audio distribution platform
Screenshot of the desktop version of SoundCloud
|Type of business||Private|
Type of site
|Music streaming, Internet community|
|Founded||August 2007; 14 years ago (2007-08)|
|Key people||Mike Weissman (CEO),|
Eliah Seton (President),
Drew Wilson (COO, CFO),
Lauren Wirtzer-Seawood (CCO, CMO),
Antonious Porch (CDO),
Alexander Ljung (Chairman and Co-Founder)
|Industry||Music, Social/Internet Community|
|Employees||approx. 425 (2021)|
|Registration||Optional; Required to post and upload content.|
|Users||+30 million creators (March 2021), +265 million tracks (March 2021)|
|Launched||October 2008; 13 years ago (2008-10)|
SoundCloud is a Swedish-founded online audio distribution platform and music sharing website based in Berlin, Germany that enables its users to upload, promote, and share audio, as well as a digital signal processor enabling listeners to stream audio. Started in 2007 by Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss, SoundCloud has grown to be one of the largest music streaming services in the world. SoundCloud offers both free and paid memberships on the platform, available for mobile, desktop and XBOX devices.
SoundCloud has influenced the music industry through the success of many artists who have used the service to launch or advance their careers, like Billie Eilish,Juice Wrld,Kehlani,Chance the Rapper, Marshmello,Post Malone,Lorde,Khalid,Kali Uchis,Lil Uzi Vert,Rico Nasty, Lil Tecca, Saweetie, $UICIDEBOY$, Alina Baraz, Lewis Capaldi,Towkio, Louis the Child, Lil Yachty, Doja Cat,Megan Thee Stallion,Lotic, Violet, Peggy Gou,DaBaby, NLE Choppa, Bad Bunny,Roddy Ricch, Rod Wave, and Chika. SoundCloud has received support from many investors and other media platforms such as Twitter.
SoundCloud was established in Berlin in August 2007 by Swedish sound designer Alexander Ljung and Swedish electronic musician Eric Wahlforss, and the website was launched in October 2008. It was originally intended to allow musicians to collaborate by facilitating the sharing and discussion of recordings, but later transformed into a publishing tool for music distribution. According to Wired magazine, soon after its inception, SoundCloud began to challenge the dominance of Myspace as a platform for musicians to distribute their music.
In April 2009, SoundCloud received €2.5 million Series A funding from Doughty Hanson Technology Ventures. In May 2010, SoundCloud announced it had one million users. In January 2011, it was reported that SoundCloud had raised US$10 million Series B funding from Union Square Ventures and Index Ventures. On 15 June 2011, SoundCloud reported five million registered users and investments from Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary's A-Grade Fund, and on 23 January 2012, it reported 10 million registered users. In May 2012, it was announced that SoundCloud had 15 million users, and site usage was increasing by 1.5 million users per month.
A new APN was released in December 2012 which improved mobile device support and added features such as concurrent listening and site navigation, and the ability to create personal collections. The response from users was mixed, and many expressed dissatisfaction with the change. At this time, SoundCloud was reported to be "reaching 180 million people per month", with 10 hours of content being uploaded per minute.
In March 2014, Twitter announced it would partner with SoundCloud in developing its first integrated music app. However, the project never moved forward because SoundCloud was unable to accommodate licensed music due to a lack of necessary arrangements with music labels. In July 2013, SoundCloud had 40 million registered users and new users were joining at 20 million per month.
SoundCloud announced in January 2014 that it had commenced licensing negotiations with major music companies to address the matter of unauthorized, copyrighted material regularly appearing on the platform. The announcement followed a round of funding in which US$60 million was raised, resulting in a $700 million valuation. According to media sources, the negotiations were initiated in an attempt to avoid similar problems faced by Google, which had been forced to handle a large number of take down notices on its YouTube video-sharing platform.
In May 2015, it was reported that Twitter was considering the acquisition of SoundCloud for approximately US$2 billion. However, the prospect of acquisition was discounted by the media, with one report stating that "the numbers didn't add up", and Bobby Owsinski hypothesizing on the Forbes website in July that SoundCloud's ongoing inability to secure deals with the major music labels was the foremost culprit.
On 28 September 2016, Spotify announced that it was in talks to buy SoundCloud, but on 8 December 2016, Spotify was reported to have abandoned its acquisition plans.
In Spring 2017, SoundCloud initially faced being sold after not raising the $100 million needed to support the platform. The initial evaluation of SoundCloud at $700 million did not hold as strong to investors after their financial shortages.
In July 2017, SoundCloud announced layoffs and the closure of two of its five offices in San Francisco and London in an effort to manage costs. In August 2017, SoundCloud announced it reached an agreement on a $169.5 million dollar investment from The Raine Group and Temasek. In connection with the investment, veteran digital media operators Kerry Trainor and Michael Weissman joined the SoundCloud team respectively as Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer. Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss remained with the company—Ljung as Chairman of the Board, and Wahlforss as Chief Product Officer until 2019, when Wahlforss transitioned into an advisory role.
In May 2019, SoundCloud bought artist distribution platform Repost Network.
In January 2020, a 75 million US-Dollar investment by Sirius XM was announced.
On 2 March 2021, SoundCloud announced a new pay model for artists, entitled "fan-powered royalties", which went into effect on 1 April 2021.[self-published source?] Under this new model, royalties come directly from the subscription and advertising revenue that listeners earn for SoundCloud, instead of allotting a certain portion of the total "pool" of revenue earned by SoundCloud to each artist based on streams. This means that a fan who listens to more advertisements or pays for a SoundCloud Go subscription will be more valuable to an artist, supposedly benefiting smaller independent artists with fans who listen to their music frequently.[self-published source?] SoundCloud claims that under fan-powered royalties, Canadian electronic music producer Vincent's earnings would jump to US$600 a month, up from US$120 a month under the pooled revenue model.[self-published source?] To commemorate this announcement, Englishtrip hop band Portishead released a cover of ABBA's 1975 song SOS exclusively on SoundCloud. Little is known about how beneficial fan-powered royalties have been for artists, beyond SoundCloud's claims, over the traditional pooled royalties model, which most competing services such as Spotify continue to use.
Monetization, subscription services
In August 2014, SoundCloud announced a new program known as "On SoundCloud", which would allow "Premier" partners to monetize their content through pre-roll audio ads, channel sponsorships, mobile display ads, and native content. The company announced deals with a number of content partners (including Comedy Central and Funny or Die), independent labels, and YouTube multi-channel networks, and that it was in "active and ongoing, advanced discussions" with major record labels.
In December 2014, it was reported that SoundCloud could potentially raise approximately US$150 million in new financing, resulting in a valuation surpassing one billion dollars. The major label issue became prominent again when the new financing information was released, as the lack of monetization was presented as an issue—SoundCloud signed an agreement with Warner Music Group as part of the new Premier program that allows both Warner Music, which also has a minor stake in the company, and its publishing division to collect royalties for songs they have chosen to monetize on the site; meanwhile, the other labels remained skeptical of the company's business model. By December 2014, SoundCloud had shared ad revenue with about 60 other Premier Partners. Concerns over the amount of revenue from the program led Sony Music Entertainment to pull its content from the service entirely in May 2015. In June 2015, SoundCloud announced that it had reached a deal with the Merlin Network, a group representing 20,000 independent record labels, to monetize their content through the Premier partner program.
In January and March 2016, SoundCloud reached respective deals with Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment. A UMG spokesperson told The New York Times that the deal would give the company an option to require certain content to be restricted to paid subscribers—a statement suggesting that SoundCloud was preparing to launch its own subscription streaming service.
In February 2017, SoundCloud launched a mid-range subscription tier named SoundCloud Go, that allows users to remove ads and listen offline for $5 per month. The original version, which was renamed to SoundCloud Go+, allows access to over 150 million songs, offline playback, no ads, no previews, and premium music tracks for $10 per month. Both subscriptions were categorized for listeners, with separate subscription services provided specifically for creators.
SoundCloud's key features include the ability to access uploaded files via unique URLs, thus allowing sound files to be embedded in Twitter and Facebook posts, although mobile devices require a SoundCloud app to play a track within Facebook. A file may be embedded by clicking a share button corresponding to the target site (e.g., Twitter). This contrasts with MySpace, which does not have reshare buttons.
Users can listen to unlimited audio. Registered users without paid subscription may upload up to 180 minutes of audio to their profile at no cost.
SoundCloud distributes music using widgets and apps. Users can place the widget on their websites or blogs, and then SoundCloud will automatically tweet every track uploaded.
SoundCloud depicts audio tracks graphically as waveforms and allows users to post "timed comments" on specific parts of any track. These comments are displayed while the associated audio segment is played.
Users are allowed to create playlists (previously known as "sets"), and to "Like" (specific tracks, which will then be saved to the user's "Like" page), "Repost", "Share", to "Follow" another user, and to make complimentary downloads of their audio available.
On the playback page, playlists containing an audio track are linked back to.
SoundCloud's API allows programs to upload music and sound files, or download files if the uploader has given permission to do so. This API has been integrated into several applications, including DAW software such as GarageBand, Logic Pro, and Studio One.
SoundCloud supports AIFF, WAV, FLAC, ALAC, OGG, MP2, MP3, AAC, AMR, and WMA files. It then transcodes them to MP3 at 128 kbit/s and Opus at 64 kbit/s for streaming purposes. (SoundCloud Go+ offers 256 kbit/s streaming.)
SoundCloud supports the Creative Commons licenses.
Their site uses adaptive web design with dynamic serving, where the mobile page resembles their mobile app user interface, but without parallax scrolling of the cover image background during playback and seeking, and only with minimal functionality.
SoundCloud offers premium services for musicians under the banner SoundCloud Pro. The SoundCloud Pro service allows users to upload up to six hours of audio, and adds additional features such as enhanced analytics, and the ability to disable comments on tracks. The Pro Unlimited tier allows unlimited uploads.
On 29 March 2016, SoundCloud unveiled SoundCloud Go, a subscription-based music streaming service; the service provides an ad-free experience, offline playback, and integrates licensed music from major labels into the existing, user-uploaded content of the service. Co-founder Eric Wahlforss stated that this aspect would help to differentiate SoundCloud Go from other music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music, as it technically provides a larger total library of songs than competing services, with a higher degree of diversity in its content. The Verge found that, excluding existing content uploaded by users, the service's initial library of songs is smaller than those of its closest competitors.
The service was initially priced at US$10 per month. On 28 February 2017, SoundCloud renamed its main Go plan SoundCloud Go+, adding a secondary tier titled SoundCloud Go at a US$5 price point, which does not include the licensed music library but still offers ad-free and offline playback. SoundCloud Go+ offers mix tracks for certain DJ apps, has a complete catalogue, and has 256 kbit/s streaming.
SoundCloud offers two mobile apps; the main SoundCloud app is oriented towards streaming, with music discovery, playlist, and sharing features. In November 2015, a separate app known as SoundCloud Pulse was released for Android and iOS; it is primarily oriented towards content creators, allowing users to upload and manage their uploads, reply to comments, and view statistics. Pulse's features were previously located within the main app; senior marketing manager Brendan Codey explained that the shift to separate apps was meant to allow SoundCloud to improve its user experience for content consumers, without having to worry about how these changes affect features oriented towards creators.
By the end of 2016, SoundCloud Pulse had over 100 million downloads.
On 1 April 2017, Chromecast support was added to the main SoundCloud iOS app.
In July 2020, Soundcloud introduced Insights into its mobile app, discontinuing Soundcloud Pulse that previously housed analytics for artists. Through the new Insights portal all users can see their top listener, top city, top country and top 50 tracks, while Pro Unlimited subscribers have access to their top 50 everything (listeners, cities, countries, and tracks).
SoundCloud has repeatedly attempted to create desktop clients equivalent to their mobile applications to compete with services like Spotify, which maintain and develop their own client. Although there are many community third-party desktop applications such as SoundCleod and SoundNode, SoundCloud has never actually created a desktop application equivalent to their mobile applications.
On 6 January 2011, SoundCloud released "SoundCloud Desktop app for Mac" to the App Store for Macintosh, which introduced the playlist feature to SoundCloud. However, was limited to tracks that have allowed third-party application playback, even though the application was a first-party release, leaving many frustrated. The application was later discontinued due to the lack of resources maintaining their new desktop application, the mobile applications, and the web browser at the same time.
On 2 May 2017, SoundCloud released an application for Xbox One, set as the basis for the beta desktop version to be released later that month. It was released only missing a few features compared to the desktop beta, mainly 'shuffle', the ability to cast a song from an external device, and the ability to go forward or backward in a playlist without using Cortana. All of which were fixed in a patch, released later on.
On 30 May 2017, SoundCloud released the "SoundCloud for Windows (Beta)" desktop application to the Windows 10Microsoft Store (digital). It was released missing many core features that were in SoundCloud's mobile apps such as 'repeat', and basic animations. It also lacked many features from the previous "SoundCloud Desktop app for Mac" incarnation, such as application specific volume control, and the ability to upload and manage tracks from the client. However, the application included voice control via Microsoft's Cortana, and unlike the previous desktop application, it supported all tracks regardless of their 3rd-party application playback availability. The app (as of 2020) has not been updated nor changed from its initial release, leading many to believe that—as with the previous application—SoundCloud is struggling to manage the desktop application in conjunction with their mobile and web versions.
In 2021, Chromium-based platforms such as Microsoft Edge began support for websites to become applications. In SoundCloud's case, downloading "SoundCloud for Windows (Beta)" from the digital Microsoft Store would showcase this feature.
SoundCloud won the Schroders Innovation Award at the 2011 European Tech Tour Awards Dinner. In 2012, SoundCloud was named Best International Startup at the TechCrunchCrunchies award ceremony. In 2015, SoundCloud won two Webby Awards, the Webby Award and People's Choice Award for Best Streaming Audio app.
As SoundCloud evolved and expanded beyond its initial user base, consisting primarily of grassroots musicians, many users complained that it had sacrificed its usefulness to independent artists in an attempt to appeal to the masses, perhaps in preparation for public sale. Such criticism particularly followed the launching of a revamped website in 2013 which, according to former CEO Alexander Ljung, was implemented for the purpose of increasing SoundCloud usage.
On 3 July 2014, TorrentFreak reported that SoundCloud offered unlimited removal powers to certain copyright holders, allowing those copyright holders to unilaterally remove paid subscribers' content without recourse.
In April 2015, SoundCloud announced a new partnership with Zefr, a content tracking company that works with YouTube to help identify songs on the platform and facilitate either takedowns or ads being run against it. Zefr states it will "better understand the sharing of content on the platform." Some users are worried it could mean a stricter copyright enforcement and more ads.
In July 2016, SoundCloud notified registered users via email that it would be "phasing out" groups because they "were not a strong driver to help users share their new tracks to the most users effectively". This announcement was met with alarm and concerned responses from numerous artists, who deemed the change unacceptable because it would eliminate their only effective means of sharing music on SoundCloud.
SoundCloud has a continuous play feature on non-mobile platforms which relates to the listener's stream and likes. Unlike YouTube's autoplay feature which is on by default but can be turned off, users cannot turn off the continuous play feature on SoundCloud.
SoundCloud has also been criticized for changes in service. The new update of the website and application made the feed and interface more difficult to use for some users. Also, the anti-piracy algorithm — which was put into place to combat the staggering number of illegal music downloads — has often been criticized for taking down music that was not illegally submitted or downloaded. Also, Universal Music Group has the right to take down any files on SoundCloud. Uploads can be taken down directly by Universal Music Group outside of SoundCloud's anti-piracy policy. Other than uploads, Universal Music Group has the ability to take down accounts, both premium and free. Customers of the company have claimed this to be "bogus," arguing that the right to manage and delete accounts should be reserved to SoundCloud itself, not to an outside company.
SoundCloud first entered the music streaming industry as a new way for artists to share and promote their music. Being that the platform is entirely online there is no need for a record label or distributor for one's music to be heard. Users and artists are placed into the platform together, creating a community focused space. The way that users are able to comment, like, and share songs and artists makes the platform feel more like a social media site rather than a streaming service. Many artists have moved from SoundCloud into the mainstream music industry because of their increased popularity from the platform. In 2018, the Grammys began to recognize artists and their music on SoundCloud. The shift from The Recording Academy was again due to the popularity of the platform and their artists, such as Chance the Rapper.Chance the Rapper is an example of a SoundCloud artist who broke the mold of the industry; he released his debut mixtape, 10 Day, on SoundCloud. In a Vanity Fair interview Chance explained how he decided against signing to a major label and felt it was better for him to give his music "without any limit on it". SoundCloud has given artists an alternate path to pursue for a career in music that is different from the existing music industry.
Main articles: Mumble rap and Emo rap
Through SoundCloud, a sub-genre of rap was created. As artists such as Smokepurpp, Yung Lean, XXXTentacion, Ski Mask the Slump God, Juice WRLD and Lil Pump originated from SoundCloud and rose to the Billboard top charts. The sound created was different from the mainstream, with a grittier and darker sound that results from a lack of production. SoundCloud rap is a lo-fi, melody driven, distorted sound with lyrics that usually focus on repetition and less on content. The SoundCloud artists themselves are known to have exaggerated appearances that include bright colored hair and face tattoos. These SoundCloud rappers are in the late teens to early twenties age range with a strong youth following.Smokepurpp, a SoundCloud artist, explained in a Rolling Stone article how the first songs he created and put on the platform were not recorded using a real microphone. The DIY nature of SoundCloud made it so millions of artists were able to put out their work without any studio equipment usually needed to make music. The freedom to upload on the platform allows for many SoundCloud rappers to post tracks impulsively or post many tracks at a time. The imperfect sound created by these SoundCloud rappers has contributed to their growing popularity and the creation of a rap sub-genre.
See also: Censorship in Turkey § Blocking of Internet sites
The government of Turkey blocked access to the SoundCloud website on 24 January 2014.
A user named "haramzadeler" ("bastards" in Turkish) uploaded a total of seven secretly recorded phone calls that reveal private conversations between the former Turkish prime minister, now President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and others, including: Erdoğan Bayraktar, local politicians, some businessmen, and the prime minister's daughter, Sümeyye Erdoğan, and son, Bilal Erdoğan. Linked to the 2013 corruption scandal in Turkey, some conversations on the recordings revealed illegal activity and possible bribery—mainly about the building permit for villas located on protected cultural heritage sites in Urla, İzmir. The opposition party Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi submitted a parliamentary question to the TBMM (Grand National Assembly of Turkey) concerning the issue, which asked why SoundCloud services were banned without any proper cause or reason.
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- ^Woods, Ben (4 January 2014). "15 of the best music streaming platforms online today. Which one is best for you?". TheNextWeb.com.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to SoundCloud.|
SoundCloud - Music & Audio
🌟 What’s next in music is first on SoundCloud 🌟
SoundCloud is more than a streaming service, it’s an open global community for anyone to upload any sound for immediate discovery.
Be the first to hear new tracks, connect directly with fellow fans and your favorite artists in real time, and support the future of music with every play, like, repost and comment.
Get SoundCloud FREE:
- Access the most diverse catalog of content
- Discover millions of emerging and established artists, DJs and podcasters
- Listen to music that exists nowhere else
- Get suggested tracks based on your listening habits
- Explore SoundCloud Charts for the best music or podcasts in each genre
- Connect directly with artists and fellow listeners
- Create playlists for any occasion
- Find new music faster with curated playlists
Listen to the biggest hits and discover what’s next in music
SoundCloud is the world's largest music and audio streaming platform with more than 200 million tracks and a global community of 20 million-plus artists from every creative corner of the world. On SoundCloud you can discover music that exists nowhere else – DJ sets, hand-curated playlists, remixes and freestyles – right next to chart-topping albums and mainstream releases.
Our massive catalog has the biggest hits in pop, hip-hop, rap, electronic, rock, techno, classical, jazz and podcasts, but also the sub-genres and songs within these communities that you’ll be hearing about next year.
Find and connect with your community
SoundCloud is the only place where artists and fans and curators collide to push music culture forward together. You can connect to emerging artists and today’s superstars directly and in real time, and hear their new songs within seconds of them being shared. Or follow our curator’s community profiles (our take on genres), so the trending tracks and playlists our plugged-in music experts are posting will land in your stream.
Support the artists you love
Fuel the success of emerging and established artists. Every like, play, comment, and repost resonates and establishes a creator’s reputation, provides motivation, and amplifies their reach. Every listen and subscription purchased on SoundCloud puts more money in artist’s pockets, empowering and enabling them to continue to create and push music culture forward.
Subscribe to SoundCloud Go+ for premium listening
With SoundCloud Go+, you can get access to every track on SoundCloud, from the biggest hits what’s next in music. With offline listening, you can take your music with you wherever you go, and with no ads, nothing stands between you and your favorite tracks. You can get even closer to a creator’s intended sound and vision with high quality audio.
- Save unlimited tracks for offline listening
- Ad-free listening
- Your subscription helps financially support the millions of creators who are starting and growing their careers on SoundCloud
- Try 30 days free, then $5.99/month*
- Save unlimited tracks for offline listening
- Access full catalog, no previews
- Get ad-free listening
- High quality audio
- Your subscription helps financially support the millions of creators who are starting and growing their careers on SoundCloud
- Try 30 days free, then $9.99/month**
JOIN THE COMMUNITY
SoundCloud Blog: https://blog.soundcloud.com
The more you tell us, the better SoundCloud gets.
SoundCloud is available in English, Brazilian Portuguese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Swedish.
SoundCloud Royalty-Free Music: The Complete Guide
High quality royalty free music can be hard to find. After all, with so many licensing laws, it can be incredibly discouraging trying to find a cleared track for next project.
Music licensing can be very confusing to the layperson, especially royalty-free licensing. Even on user-friendly platforms like SoundCloud, it can be hard to find or publish royalty-free assets without knowing a few key details.
Rest assured, royalty free Soundcloud does exist. In this article, we'll share how you can find royalty free music on the platform to use for sampling or background music in your YouTube videos or other content. We'll also give an overview on the different Creative Commons license types so that you can truly understand which tracks are copyright free.
Is SoundCloud Royalty Free?
In short, sometimes. Soundcloud allows users to upload music with a wide range of terms, including those under a Creative Commons license, some of which are royalty free. In order to find royalty free music, you need to filter by this license type on Soundcloud and confirm that the song in question is truly royalty free.
As a Soundcloud user, it's important to understand that not all tracks on the platform constitute as royalty free music. Before you create with a song or find background music for your next project, you need to understand how these terms work to begin with. From there, you'll be able to spot royalty free music on your own.
Make sure you listen up in the following sections: While sifting through license information can feel somewhat dry, it's a small price to pay up front to protect your music and pocketbook down the line.
What Are Royalties?
Before we delve into Creative Commons, it would be helpful first to understand how music licensing works and its history. One way music licenses have worked to benefit artists is through royalties, which are economic compensation for using the artists’ work. This compensation is typically a percentage of the revenue generated from the work over a given period, and the rate can vary a great deal. Royalties are calculated and distributed in several different ways and require some legal expertise.
One of the main value propositions of royalty-free work is that you can use it (generally) in perpetuity for a single flat fee (or even none at all sometimes).
There are several different ways to distribute content under a royalty-free license, one of the simplest methods being through Creative Commons.
Creative Commons Basics
Creative Commons is an organization that provides a licensing framework for intellectual property. It’s specifically tailored to IP in the digital space and has helped artists and content creators share and sell their work freely since 2001.
There are several different types of permissions that make up CC licenses, including the following:
BY (attribution) – You must credit the creator.
SA (share-alike) – You can only share adaptations under the same conditions as the source
NC (non-commercial) – You cannot use work for commercial purposes.
ND (no derivatives) – Work can only be shared as-is; no editing or re-mixing allowed.
CC0 – Work is in the public domain.
Each CC license incorporates one or more (except in the case of CC0, which is public domain exclusively) of the conditions mentioned above. For example:
CC BY (attribution)
CC BY-SA (attribution, share-alike)
CC BY-ND (attribution, no derivatives)
CC BY-NC-ND (attribution, non-commercial, no derivatives)
Note that an artist can ask for an uploaded track to have a CC license, but that doesn't make it approved for all use cases. Make sure that you understand exactly which license you're looking for, and give credit as needed when utilizing Soundcloud music.
SoundCloud has options for applying and filtering for these licenses, but they’re easy to miss if you don’t look carefully. Here’s how to do that as a listener and as an artist.
How To Find Royalty Free Music On Soundcloud
Many different user types flock to SoundCloud for their audio needs. Many are simply music fans, but some are also artists who want to find samples for their work (which is a pretty standard use case for royalty-free audio tracks). Luckily, the CC licensing framework accommodates an extensive range of use cases. Whatever the case, you will need to incorporate the proper search methods to find genuinely royalty-free audio. If you don’t, you may end up with the wrong type of content, potentially leading to discrepancies or even legal trouble with the licensee (which is more common than you might think).
Search For “Royalty-Free”
Unfortunately, SoundCloud doesn’t have many advanced search filters, but they provide an easy way to search by category. Once you enter your search, you can narrow down your results into one of five categories:
- SoundCloud Go+ tracks
Whatever category you are looking for, be sure to include “royalty-free” in your search terms to increase your chances of finding legitimately royalty-free content. But also remember that there could be royalty-free music out there that isn’t explicitly labeled, which is one reason why it’s essential to familiarize yourself with CC licensing if you haven’t already.
Filter For CC Licensed Music
To filter by license, you must click on the “Tracks” category of your search results. This action will reveal a sub-menu underneath called “Filter results” that includes another sub-menu with a copyright symbol beside it.
Click on that sub-menu to access the different license permissions.
If you are creating derivative works from the audio (e.g., for sample-based music like hip hop or electronic), you should naturally avoid any non-derivative (ND) Creative Commons licenses. But you should also pay close attention to other conditions (like commercial use and share-alike, if applicable) when searching for source material.
How To Use Free Music Under A Creative Commons License
Finding free music or background music for your videos or other creative projects can be tricky. Here are some quick tips on how to use music properly under a Creative Commons license.
How do I avoid copyright on Soundcloud?
In order to avoid copyright on Soundcloud, the navigation panel is your greatest asset. You should filter all songs by a Creative Commons license and then read the individual terms set by the owner of the music. Only public domain licenses allow unlimited access for use as background music in commercial and non commercial projects.
It's a good idea to message creators to make sure you're providing credit where credit is due. Thankfully, you can create a free account within a matter of minutes, and doing so will make it easier to save some of your favorite background music contenders for future videos.
Can you use Soundcloud music on Youtube?
You should only download tracks to use in your Youtube videos that are a part of the public domain. Even if you're only using the right track for background music, or downloading sound effects to enhance your project, it's copyright infringement to create a video utilizing music that isn't royalty-free.
When in doubt, it's best to reach out to the musicians themselves. If you contact a artist or the owner of a particular track, you may be able to sign an agreement to get permission for background music in your videos. You can also use the usage menu filters to find music that's approved for use within the public domain.
Are Soundcloud songs copyrighted?
Some Soundcloud tracks are copyrighted while others are not. Music on Soundcloud can fit under a variety of licenses, so it's important that you cater your search results appropriately and inspect each song individually to make sure that you are utilizing truly copyright-free tracks.
Can you use Soundcloud music commercially?
You can use music that's under a public domain license commercially. You'll want to make sure your music of choice fits within this license to avoid copyright infringement. For example, there are plenty of songs that fit a CC license, but are only approved for non commercial purposes. Only sources in the public domain, like the YouTube audio library for instance, can be used in ads, films, or any project that has the potential to bring in money.
Can you use 30 seconds of a copyrighted song from Soundcloud?
Unfortunately, this is one of the most common misconceptions about using licensed music in commercial and non commercial projects. If a song is copyrighted, there's no exact length that makes usage "okay". It's still considered copyright infringement whether you use 5 or 30 seconds of a track that's not under a Creative Commons license. Unless you've received special permission from the beats' owner, you should only use tracks that meet royalty free criteria.
How To Upload Songs On Soundcloud Without Copyright
Suppose you’re uploading your music and want to make it available royalty-free. In that case, you will need to follow some basic SEO (search engine optimization) guidelines and know your Creative Commons licenses.
Include “Royalty-Free” Keywords
Since Creative Commons has no explicitly “royalty-free” license, it’s up to you to let users know that your content is indeed free of any royalty obligations. Make sure to include “royalty-free” tags in your upload. Having “Royalty-Free” in your title will help immensely.
Failing to do this won’t necessarily lead to your music falling off the radar completely. But as long as you include those keywords (along with the proper license), royalty-free music seekers will be more likely to find your work.
Choose The Right CC License
Once you upload your track, there are a few fields to populate and options to select, including the publishing license (under the Metadata tab).
Crucial Advice For Marketing Your Royalty Free Tracks On SoundCloud
Mixing and mastering quality will make a massive difference in how well your track performs, but audio quality can be subjective. One of the best ways to discover listener preferences is to test different mixes and masters of your track.
An option for automatic mastering is eMastered , which uses AI to master your track automatically, with optional custom parameter settings.
Test different versions of your track by measuring each mix’s performance (downloads, sales, plays, likes, etc.) over a given period. Since SoundCloud is such an accessible platform for streaming and downloading royalty-free tracks, there should be plenty of traffic and engagement to measure your success.
The world of music licensing can be confusing, but hopefully this article shed some tips on how you can find music for sampling, background music, or anything in between. At the end of the day, make sure that you download tracks that utilize a CC license, and be sure to follow through on the licensing terms and credit musicians and creators as needed.
Your search bar is your best friend, but make sure to read the description of any potential tracks to make sure the creators or musicians aren't requiring any additional action. Enjoy finding new music for your next project!
Soundcloud free music
How to download music from SoundCloud
SoundCloud is one of the world's biggest music streaming sites, but if you've found a track that you particularly like, downloading it isn't always straightforward.
If the artist has chosen to make the track available to download, you'll normally see a 'Free download' link just above the comment box.
However, there are restrictions, and tracks can only be downloaded a certain number of times depending on the artist's membership level. Free users have a download limit of 100 downloads per track, Pro users have 1,000, and Pro Unlimited users have unlimited downloads available for their tracks. Therefore, even if they want to make their work available, it won't be possible if they've hit that ceiling.
Before you download music from SoundCloud, bear in mind that many artists use the platform to monetize their work, and rely on it for a portion of their income. Only download tracks from SoundCloud if the artist is happy for you to do so, and never redistribute downloaded tracks without permission.
Download music from SoundCloud
One of the best free SoundCloud downloaders is KlickAud. This online tool allows you to download music in MP3 format, and is updated frequently with new features and fixes. If it's experiencing any temporary downtime, there's also a mirror available as a backup.
Using KickAud is very straightforward, and the downloaded track will include album art, which will appear in your media player. Here's how to do it:
- Copy the URL of your chosen track from SoundCloud.
- Paste it into the URL box on KickAud.
- Click 'Download' and wait a few seconds for it to process.
- Click 'Download the Song'.
Convert the track to a different format
MP3 is a versatile format, but if it's not right for your needs, you can easily convert your downloaded tracks to a different file type using Any Video Converter Free. Despite its name, this free software handles audio files just as well as videos, and supports just about every mainstream file type. Here's how:
- Drag one or more MP3 files into AVC Free's main window.
- Select an output format using the drop-down menu.
- Pick a destination under 'Basic settings' at the bottom right.
- Click 'Convert now'.
Cat Ellis is the fitness and wellbeing editor at TechRadar. She's been a technology journalist for 11 years, and cut her teeth on magazines including PC Plus and PC Format before joining TechRadar. She's a trained run leader, and enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the pavement. If you have a story about fitness trackers, treadmills, running shoes, e-bikes, or any other fitness tech, drop her a line.
SoundCloud is the world's largest music and audio streaming platform – 200 million tracks and growing. With a buzzing community of artists and musicians constantly uploading new music, SoundCloud is where you can find the next big artists alongside chart-topping albums, live sets, and mixes for every occasion.
Our enormous catalog lets you discover amazing hip hop, electronic, rock, classical, jazz, podcasts, audiobooks, sports and much, much more.
SoundCloud offers a family of products for all listeners and creators. Join our diverse community, connect with artists you love, and start discovering new music today.
- Over 120 million tracks from emerging and established artists
- Get suggested tracks based on your likes and listening habits
- Discover incredible music in each genre with SoundCloud charts, from all-time greats to the newest and hottest tracks
- Connect with friends and interact with your favorite artists directly
- Create playlists for parties, workouts, on the way to work, or whatever mood you're in
- Discover, stream, and share a constantly expanding mix of music – anytime, anywhere
- Over 120 million tracks from emerging and established artists
- Take your collection offline, everywhere you go
- No ads, for an uninterrupted listening experience
- Support artists – a percentage of all revenue from SoundCloud Go is paid to creators on the platform
- All for just $5.99/month*
- Upgrade to Go+ for a fully expanded catalog of over 200 million tracks, including superstars from major labels and indies
- Take your collection offline, everywhere you go
- No more 30 second previews — all music on SoundCloud, including premium Go+ tracks, is fully accessible to stream and save offline
- No ads
- Support artists – a percentage of all revenue from SoundCloud Go+ is paid to creators on the platform
- 30 days free, then $12.99/month**
JOIN THE COMMUNITY
SoundCloud Blog: http://blog.soundcloud.com
The more you tell us, the better SoundCloud gets.
SoundCloud is available in English, Brazilian Portuguese, Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
*Get SoundCloud Go free for first 7 days, and $5.99/month after that. Free 7-day trial only available for users who haven't previously subscribed to SoundCloud Go. Subscription automatically renews unless auto-renew is turned off at least 24-hours before the end of the current period. Account will be charged for $5.99 within 24-hours prior to the end of the current period. Subscriptions may be managed by the user and auto-renewal may be turned off by going to the user's Account Settings after purchase. Any unused portion of a free trial period, if offered, will be forfeited when the user purchases a subscription. Offer limited to users based in the US.
**Get SoundCloud Go+ free for first 30 days, and $12.99/month after that. Free 30-day trial only available for users who haven't previously subscribed to SoundCloud Go+. Subscription automatically renews unless auto-renew is turned off at least 24-hours before the end of the current period. Account will be charged for $12.99 within 24-hours prior to the end of the current period. Subscriptions may be managed by the user and auto-renewal may be turned off by going to the user's Account Settings after purchase. Any unused portion of a free trial period, if offered, will be forfeited when the user purchases a subscription. Offer limited to users based in the US.
We constantly update SoundCloud to keep the tunes flowing and beats bumping. In this version:
- We improved performance and fixed bugs.
Loving the app? Rate us to make it official. Have questions or suggestions? Find us on Twitter @SoundCloud or the SoundCloud Help Center. We're always listening.
Ratings and Reviews
4.5 out of 5
Great app except one thing.
The app works great, in my opinion it’s the best music app ever. It’s free and can actually pick what song you want to listen to whenever you want to listen to it, all with very little ads. You can pay to have the app ad free but no need for that. Also when you pay you can download songs for offline listening but I’ve noticed that if you put a song on a playlist and listened to it before at least once that it doesn’t have to load the next time you listen to the song so there is no need for paying. The only bad thing is there is this one thing called SoundCloud weekly on the homepage and it recamends you songs... but all the songs are usually really old like 1-3 years old, so I would like if it would recommend songs that are newer. Other than that if you live in a family that has very little money and you love to listen to music like I do (bus ride to school, bus ride home, when I play basketball, when I wanna jam out) and stuff like that it’s perfect. So SoundCloud if you see this please keep the app the way you have it. But maybe different color ways. I like when music apps change their color ways!
SoundCloud is great but there are a lot of glitches with playlists that need to be fixed. Trying to rearrange your songs in your own playlists is a hassle, it takes multiple tries to get the song to permanently move because it often just reverts back to where it was right after you moved it. I always have to close then reopen the open to check and make sure my songs moved to where I wanted them to. Also the icons you can upload for your playlist cover never seem to update unless you actually open up and go into the playlist. This doesn’t seem to be much of an issue on the desktop but on mobile my set display cover is never what I picked, it’s usually automatically always the same picture as the first song in that playlist. This gets really irritating because if I want people to check out my playlists, the first thing they see is the display image and I would rather them see the one I chose than of the picture from someone’s track! Lastly, please incorporate the option to move around your playlists. I have playlists from months ago that are at the way end of my profile and would rather have some of those at the forefront of my profile when you visit it.
Really hope you consider ideas to fix these problems. Otherwise great app and I’ll always be a user.
Very good but some issues
So I’ve been using this app for the past 3 years and it has been amazing, but somethings I would wish could change as well as some issues I’ve ran into. The first thing is the UI, if I type in a song and I spell it wrong I wish it could put up something close to that and not say “ No Results”. Second thing is that I wish when you went into your saved playlist that you would start at the bottom or the newest song and not the top, but those I can live with so I own an IPhone X, I’m not showing off or anything but this thing has amazing speakers and for some reason when I play a song it crackles and pops which is soooo annoying, I’m an audio geek and I can not listen to a song when it cracks and pops it’s just infuriating. And the last thing is something that I’ve wanted for so long is to be able to post songs from your phone because not all of us own computers, and or laptops but the option to be able to post songs from your phone would be awesome. I hope you bring these ideas in consideration and hopefully are able to fix that bug but anyways I love this app and this is the only way to listen to songs that are posted by non singers or artists.
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- SoundCloud Global Limited & Co KG
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English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish
- Age Rating
- 12+ Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or ReferencesInfrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude HumorInfrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive ThemesInfrequent/Mild Sexual Content and Nudity
- © 2021 SoundCloud Global Limited & Co KG
- In-App Purchases
- SoundCloud Go+$12.99
- SoundCloud Go+$12.99
- SoundCloud Go$5.99
With Family Sharing set up, up to six family members can use this app.
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What is SoundCloud? Everything you need to know about the music and podcast platform
- SoundCloud is an online audio streaming and distribution platform that allows users to upload, stream, promote, and share music and podcasts.
- SoundCloud is free, with paid subscriptions offering ad-free listening and offline listening options for fans.
- SoundCloud is available on the desktop and mobile apps for iOS and Android.
- Visit Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.
SoundCloud is an online audio streaming and music sharing platform founded in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2007.
The interactive nature of SoundCloud allows creators — from musicians to podcasters — to connect with listeners and fans through its various sharing tools. That includes a feature SoundCloud is perhaps most known for — its popular commenting feature. It allows users to share their thoughts on specific moments in an audio stream, which are then visible by anyone who listens to the track.
What you need to know about SoundCloud
SoundCloud is available online and for iOS and Android devices, and the basic version is free. Here's everything else you need to know about SoundCloud.
How much does SoundCloud cost
While anyone can sign up and use SoundCloud at no-cost, there are advanced features that will require a monthly subscription.
The first premium tier on the platform for users is SoundCloud Go, and it costs just $4.99 a month. With SoundCloud Go, users can save an unlimited number of tracks for offline listening and enjoy an ad-free listening experience.
SoundCloud Go+ is the next level up. For $9.99 a month, subscribers enjoy all the benefits of SoundCloud Go plus higher quality audio and access to SoundCloud's full catalog.
For creators, there's the option of SoundCloud Pro Unlimited. SoundCloud Basic allows you to upload three hours of audio content and access to stats like the number of track plays and likes.
But SoundCloud Pro Unlimited offers even more listener statistics, unlimited audio uploads, opportunities to monetize and distribute audio tracks across other platforms, and more. SoundCloud Pro Unlimited costs $12 a month if you sign up for a yearly subscription or $16 for month-to-month billing.
How to use SoundCloud as a listener
Go to SoundCloud.com or download the SoundCloud app and create an account. You can do this by entering your email address and choosing a password or signing up via your Facebook, Apple, or Google account.
To edit your profile, click your display name on the top right of the screen, then click "Profile." Upload a header image and profile image to personalize your page. To edit your display name or profile url, click the "Edit" button underneath the header image. Here, you can also add or edit your bio and note your full name, city, and country if you'd like. Click "Save changes" when you're finished.
To start listening, navigate to the "Discover" page by clicking the "Home" tab to see what's trending or search for specific content using the search bar. Comment, like, and repost tracks you like; these options are all found underneath the waveforms of individual audio tracks.
You can create playlists by clicking the "More" button, then click "Add to playlist." Click the "Follow" button under an artist's name to follow their new tracks, playlists, and reposts. These will appear in your "Stream" tab alongside the tracks you upload and repost. Your likes and playlists live in the "Library" tab.
How to use SoundCloud as an artist
Using SoundCloud is a bit more involved for creators, as there are many tools at your disposal to share your work and grow your audience.
To upload a track to SoundCloud, click "Upload." You can drag and drop files into the upload box or choose files to upload from your computer. Consider setting the privacy for your audio track by clicking "Public" or "Private." You can also choose to enable downloads for your track and add or change track information.
The SoundCloud Creator Guide offers a comprehensive look at all of the tools and resources available to artists to help them get the most out of the platform. It includes tips on optimizing SoundCloud tracks to make them easy to find, instructions on how to share your SoundCloud tracks on social media and embedded players, and more.