Discussing the Potential Decline of SoundCloud in 2017

When college-aged individuals think of local musicians, homemade music or start-up bands, they often think of SoundCloud. After all, according to SoundCloud’s website, it’s “the world’s largest music and audio platform” and it “directly connects creators and their fans across the globe.”

With the immense brand recognition of SoundCloud, it’s surprising that it may be reaching a decline.

About two weeks ago, it was revealed that two top SoundCloud executives, COO Marc Strigel and finance director Markus Harder, left the company for no given reason.

DigitalMusicNews.com said that “the company quickly downplayed the high-profile exits” and that it didn’t share any specifics on the matter.

This begs the question: What are they hiding?

Clearly there must have been a reason for not one, but two executives to silently take their leave.

Some piano sheet music owned by my father.
Some SoundCloud creators record on their keyboards or pianos, using sheet music such as this.

Some people have been speculating that SoundCloud is losing money, according to DigitalMusicNews.com, though the company has denied such rumors.

It’s important to keep in mind that SoundCloud only started back in 2008 and is still “struggling to find its footing,” as TheTechPortal.com put it.

In fact, the company might be falling behind financially more than it lets on.

Back in January this year, MusicBusinessWorldwide.com reported that SoundCloud’s net losses (since its 2008 birth) as of 2015 were nearly $52 million. That means the company has actually lost more than it’s made.

Additionally, it said that “the company [is] now admitting that, should its subscription service flop, its funding may run dry this year.”

2017 is a critical year for SoundCloud, especially after competing streaming service Spotify opted not to acquire the company last year. While SoundCloud had hoped to sell for $1 billion to Spotify, it’s now facing potential sale to Google for “somewhere closer to $500 million” according to MusicBusinessWordwide.com.

My younger sister, Macy Drake, listens to SoundCloud music with her headphones.
My 16-year-old sister, Macy Drake, listens to SoundCloud music with her headphones.

Despite the challenges the company is facing, music listeners and creators alike continue to flock to the service.

Last year SoundCloud claimed to attract 175 million users (including listeners) worldwide, as reported by the New York Times.

“More than 10 million creators are heard on SoundCloud every year, and users upload 12 hours of music and audio every minute.” — TechCrunch.com

“Me and my producer really like the website because we can post our music on it and almost instantaneously everyone has access to it,” said Rodney Bolden, a 20-year-old Californian music creator on SoundCloud (link is for his producer, Bolden’s songs are marked by CriTical).

“For those who [aren’t members], you can just send a link and boom you’re connected not only to the song but to the artist page as well.”

Keyboard keys at my family's home.
Music is a way to connect people, and SoundCloud connects artists, including pianists, to their listeners.

Musicians and producers rely on SoundCloud as a platform to connect them to their audience. Similarly, the listeners use SoundCloud to discover new music and support artists from the bottom up.

“Yeah, SoundCloud is great for finding new artists and being able to connect with them on that smaller scale,” said Stephanie Ahsan, avid SoundCloud listener and second-year sociology major at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

“A lot of the artists are just starting out, so it’s cool to support your friends by sharing their SoundCloud music.”

Artists that are new to the music world often utilize SoundCloud as an affordable and reliable way to build their fanbase and gather support from their friends.

If SoundCloud loses funding for its services, these beginning-level artists, as well as more established SoundCloud artists, will suffer. The devoted listeners who use SoundCloud to find unique music that’s unavailable on other platforms will suffer.

It’s unclear yet how SoundCloud will fare at the end of 2017.

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