SoundCloud officially launches paid subscription service, SoundCloud Go

soundcloud launches paid subscription service new berlin office
Christian Werner
SoundCloud has followed Spotify, Apple Music, and others into the world of of subscription on-demand music this week, adding a $10/month subscription tier to its music streaming service. The news comes after the company’s recent partnership with Sony Music Entertainment — the last of the three major labels to give its blessing to the streamer — allowing SoundCloud to essentially go legit and sell a wide gamut of copyrighted music.

The new plan, called SoundCloud Go, gives users ad-free access to all of SoundCloud’s music and also allows users to listen offline from a catalog that offers around 100 million more songs than rivals Spotify and Apple Music. It also allows musicians to decide which cuts appear behind the paywall, accessible only by those who pay up. The new paid tier is currently only available in the United States.

Soundcloud currently boasts a massive 175 million users, and looks to continue that growth with the new paid tier. It’s a huge experiment — the company has always operated on a free model, and it remains to be seen just how many users will want to pony up hard-earned cash for the ad-free version.

The company says exclusive paid-tier content will fuel fans’ desire to pay, but Jay Z’s Tidal has had a difficult time gaining traction with that strategy. While Tidal has gained around 2.5 million users since re-launching last year — with a crowd of Jay Z’s superstar friends offering up exclusive titles — it has also undergone a litany of missteps along the way, including a real-life game of musical chairs from top executives in the front office.

And though SoundCloud’s large volume of music from creators big and small is impressive, many have been raising questions as to its legality. SoundCloud has long been host to user-created remixes, samples, and mashups of previously-published musical works, which makes distributing royalties properly a Herculean task.

The company has addressed those royalty concerns, claiming it has a system in place that will properly distribute the royalties owed. Speaking about its payment system, SoundCloud co-founder Alexander Ljung told Billboard, “We don’t go into the specifics of how it works, but we say it’s a framework for the entire industry. When you’re doing something at true Internet scale — millions and billions — what we’ve created works for most stuff.”

It helps that each of the three major labels who have signed on — Universal, Sony, and Warner — all took equity stakes in SoundCloud as part of their licensing deals. That means they each have a vested interest in mitigating lawsuits from outside parties for misplaced royalty payments.

And many others in the music world are pulling for SoundCloud Go to be successful, largely because of the crater it would leave in the streaming music infrastructure if it folded. No other streaming service offers what SoundCloud does. It serves as an essential tool for smaller artists and labels, allowing them to distribute music and generate income, and a lot of smaller musicians would simply not be heard without it. But the service has been hemorrhaging money in recent years, and desperately needs to create profits to stay in business long term.

With the three biggest major labels co-invested in its success, the new subscription service may be SoundCloud’s best bet to stick around for the long term. We’ll be following these events as they unfold, so stay with us.

Home Theater

Plex is the latest player to contemplate the subscription streaming game

With massive reach thanks to its client app being supported virtually every media device on the planet, Plex is now looking at the future of its media curation platform. A future that may include free and subscription services.

Jam out in hi-fi style with the 25 best playlists on Spotify

Music is the world's most potent drug, and the best playlists on Spotify will make you catch feelings. We've scoured the service for its top collections, and brought them together in one place -- for you.
Movies & TV

NBCUniversal will launch its own streaming service in 2020

NBCU is prepping a streaming service filled with its original content for a debut sometime next year, meaning that Michael, Dwight, and the rest of the Scranton crew might be moving to a new home.

Tidal faces legal jeopardy over fake stream numbers accusation

In another challenging chapter for music subscription service Tidal, Norwegian authorities have begun a formal investigation into charges that the company faked millions of streams for artists such as Kanye West and Beyoncé.

The best free music download sites that are totally legal

Finding music that is both free and legal to download can be difficult. We've handpicked a selection of the best free music download sites for you to legally download your next favorite album.

Apple Music vs. Spotify: Which service is the streaming king?

Apple Music is giving Spotify a run for its money, but which service is best for you? In our Apple Music vs. Spotify showdown, we compare and contrast all we know about the two streaming music services.
Home Theater

Mobile masters: Tidal’s better-than-CD MQA tracks come to Android

Audiophile-grade music tracks and streaming music services don't come together very often, and when they do, it's not always easy to find a device that plays them. That's no longer the case as Tidal's MQA tracks now work on Android.

From true crime to comedy, here's our list of the best podcasts around

When you aren’t in the music mood, podcasts can be your ear candy. Whether you love to stay up-to-date on the latest news or want to know what’s happening in sports, you’ll find something on our must-listen-to podcast roundup.

Music junkie? Here are the 24 best music apps for consuming and creating tunes

We rummaged through the iOS and Android app stores to find the finest mobile music-creation and music-consumption apps in existence. No matter if you're on Android or iOS, here are the best music apps.
Home Theater

Mobile audio gets an upgrade thanks to new Sonarworks apps

Sonarworks is used by audio engineers around the world to get more accurate sound from their headphones. Today, the company launched Android and iOS apps for the same ability on mobile devices.

Don't use streaming apps? Try the best free media players for your local music

Rather than using music-streaming apps, you may want something for playing your local music. Good news! There are some good alternatives. These are the best media players you can download for free on Windows.

Don't spend hundreds on Pro Tools or Logic. Try one of these free alternatives

Believe it or not, Pro Tools isn't the only digital audio workstation worth your time. Check out our picks for the best free recording software, whether you're looking for a lightweight app or a full-blown audio workstation.

Apple may be developing a new iPod Touch to woo younger users

Apple may be developing its first new iPod touch model since 2015 as it aims to capture younger users who are not yet ready for their own smartphone, and expand its overall listening base in the future.