SoundCloud Apocalypse Survival Tips: For Artists
SoundCloud has jump started countless music careers. The unique streaming service has become so impactful that the phrase “SoundCloud rapper” is a widely recognized insult for rappers who have yet to break into consistent live shows or get signed to a label. The platform’s unique, community-enabling features have yet to be replicated, even as rumors of the platform’s demise circulate, backed by current events and insider reports.
Is SoundCloud going to stick around?
On July 6th, 2017, the company announced that it was cutting 173 jobs - 40% of its workforce - and closing offices in San Francisco and London. CEO and co-founder Alex Ljung explained that the cuts were made “to ensure [a] path to long-term, independent success.”
Less than a week later, on July 12th, sources at SoundCloud informed TechCrunch that the company only had enough money to last until Q4 of 2017. As you read this article, less than 80 days remain until the beginning of Q4 of 2017. Needless to say, the internet exploded when the news hit. Fans, artists, and media outlets were forced to think about the potential impact of a SoundCloud shutdown.
On July 13th, SoundCloud sent Variety a statement refuting TechCrunch’s reports: “there are a number of inaccuracies within the TechCrunch article. They seem to stem from a misinterpretation of information by one or two laid off employees during a recent all hands meeting. Due to the extensive number of inaccuracies, we will only comment regarding funding and layoffs.”
The statement continued, “to clarify, SoundCloud is fully funded into the fourth quarter. We continue to be confident the changes made last week put us on our path to profitability and ensure SoundCloud’s long-term viability. In terms of layoffs, it is our policy not to discuss individual employee cases, but we can share we continue to work with all employees who were let go to support them during this transition, with employment and financial assistance.”
The response is ambiguous at best. A company that enjoyed a dominant run as a niche streaming service has a shaky future. SoundCloud has been in existence for over eight years, and countless independent artists have spent a significant portion of that 8+ year period releasing music, creating communities, and building followings on the platform.
Based on their latest statement, it seems like SoundCloud is going to stay alive. For now, at least. As far as we know. That being said, nothing is forever. Nothing is guaranteed. The possibility of the streaming platform dying out is frightening to thousands of musicians, artists, and producers who have built significant fanbases through its unique ecosystem. If you were scared at the possibility of SoundCloud’s demise, it’s time to take some preventative steps to minimize your losses in the event that everything does go up in smoke one day.
"Build your foundation on something that is likely to stand the test of time."
Get on SoundCloud and tell your audience to connect with you everywhere else. Consistently.
If you knew that SoundCloud would shut down in less than three months, what would you do? This isn’t an impossible scenario. In fact, this is literally what happened to Vine users in the last quarter of 2016. Despite Vine’s massive cultural footprint and peak of 200 million active users, Twitter announced its intent to shut it down on October 27, 2017. The six second looping video platform’s final day was on January 17, 2017 - less than three months after the initial announcement.
Thankfully, the majority of Vine’s biggest stars had movie deals, YouTube channels, Instagram platforms, and an array of other buzz-building and profit generating digital plans in place to offset the death of Vine. As the platform’s shutdown rapidly approached, Vine content creators stopped posting original content on Vine altogether and moved over to other video-centric platforms such as Instagram and YouTube.
Additionally, they started posting Vines telling their fans to follow them on other social media networks - over, and over, and over again. Why not? At that point, the only thing that mattered on Vine was converting as many followers as possible into followers on other platforms.
Thankfully, there’s no definitive countdown until SoundCloud’s shutdown. Not yet, at least. That being said, it will benefit you to learn from what happened to content creators on Vine and start taking actions to prepare for worst case scenarios before they happen.
You need to consistently cross promote between all of your social media/streaming platforms, by any means necessary. This should be a foundational part of your digital strategy. Different people prefer different platforms, and different platforms come and go. Relying on one platform limits your reach to potential fans and puts you at risk to lose it all, in the event that the one platform you rely on loses relevance.
Furthermore, you need to build an email list to truly ensure longevity. Remember that every single social media platform is a private companies. Every single private company is susceptible to changing or ceasing to exist entirely. It’s out of your control. Outside of the possibility that the United States’ current President might destroy life as we know it in general, it’s extremely unlikely that e-mail will be going anywhere for the foreseeable future. Build your foundation on something that is most likely to stand the test of time.
Shameless plug: you can join my email list using the form below.
Let’s talk music distribution.
If you’re an artist who has their music solely on Soundcloud and no other DSP (Digital Streaming Platform), that needs to change today. Imagine losing your entire music catalogue, streaming statistics, and core following. If that scares you, take some steps to make sure it’s not a possibility.
The first step to getting your music on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and Tidal is to sign up for digital distribution. You have plenty of options. Look into companies such as TuneCore, Distro Kid, and EMPIRE, and start getting your music distributed. These companies are very transparent with their fees, which highly favor the artist.
Once your music is distributed, you will be able to monetize your music on SoundCloud, if they’re still up and running. Then you can actually make money off of the streams that you receive on this service. Even if SoundCloud stays around forever, you need to diversify. If you don’t have your music on Apple Music of Spotify, you’re missing out on a lot of potential fans who only rely on those specific platforms.
Consider Audiomack as a SoundCloud alternative.
If you’re looking for a SoundCloud alternative with similar features, sign up for Audiomack. It’s free for all users. You get unlimited storage, sharing, and downloads without upgrading to a premium plan. The platform has 6 million users today, and has a built-in trending music and charts section that reaches over 250,000 listeners each day. Audiomack also has an iOS and Android app that will allow the user to discover, share, and listen to new music on the go.
Once you set up distribution, you’ll be able to apply for their Audiomack Premium (AMP) program, which allows you to monetize your streams and generate revenue. As SoundCloud’s future continues to lack certainty, expect Audiomack’s stock to continue to rise. Get in early. Early adapters win.
Don’t Sleep On YouTube.
A lot of artists are neglecting YouTube. They’re missing out. YouTube receives 30 million visitors per day. A lot of potential new listeners are out there waiting for you. You've probably experienced YouTube's autoplay feature - after the video you're watching finished, it moves on to a related video. That next related video could be you.
Don’t have a music video? Cool. Even if you have a single with no video, you can upload a still image video so that potential fans browsing the platform can discover you. Additionally, once you get your music distributed you will be able to monetize your plays on YouTube as you would on Apple Music and Spotify.
The SoundCloud Situation: Is there a silver lining?
It’s really sad to see SoundCloud in the state that it’s in. It opened a lot of doors for a lot of artists. There are a lot of artists touring and signing major label deals due to the fanbases that they built on SoundCloud. That being said, signs of the platform’s vulnerability have been there for years. A growing disconnect between the platform and the community that it spawned. Increased competition from streaming services such as Apple Music, TIDAL, and Spotify. Pressure from record labels. SoundCloud pioneered a new system of music discovery, but its days may be numbered.
If the rumors of SoundCloud’s possible extinction scared you, it’s time to make some changes. Prepare yourself for the unimaginable before the unimaginable happens.
You can’t build a house on land that you don’t own. The same thing applies to your brand. If you’re only relying on SoundCloud, or any singular streaming/distribution service for that matter, it’s time to wake up.
Don’t wait. Start today.
I wrote this article with my friend Max Pete! Max, a.k.a. the "One Hand Wonder Man," is a freelance web designer and digital marketer who specializes in social media management, email marketing, content creation, and paid advertising. You can check out his work and get in touch with him via maxpete.co.
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