The music-streaming app SoundCloud has launched its paid-for subscription service in the UK, bringing with it a full library and ads for those users that don’t pay.
The company is best known for hosting audio from up-and-coming but also well-established musicians, who post new tracks onto its audio hosting service. But it’s now looking to take on more traditional streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify, too, by offering a full library.
SoundCloud, which with 175 million users claims to be the second biggest streaming service in the world behind YouTube, will launch a range of advertising to its service.
This will include audio ads, promoted tracks, creator partnerships as well as a deal with Global Radio, the UK’s biggest commercial radio group, for its DAX audio exchange to sell ads across the SoundCloud service.
SoundCloud, which introduced advertising to US users in 2014, will handle native advertising partnerships in-house.
The SoundCloud Go subscription service, which was launched in the US earlier this year, will allow users to opt out of receiving ads, as well as accessing an expanded catalogue of music, offline listening and other features.
That catalogue will feature 125-million tracks, including most major new releases when they appear on other streaming services.
It will charge £9.99 to sign up for SoundCloud Go. The existing free service will remain, but it will now be ad-supported so that marketing will pop up between songs.
Subscriptions put SoundCloud in competition with the paid-for services offered by Spotify, which has 30 million paying subscribers, and Apple Music’s 11 million-plus.
The company said a combination of advertising and paid-for premium services is essential to make sure the musicians and music creators who use SoundCloud make money.
“The introduction of advertising forms a cornerstone of our commitment to the interest of our creator community,” said Alison Moore, SoundCloud’s chief revenue officer. “Each time an ad is heard in SoundCloud, an artist will get paid, and help to ensure the free offering remains available alongside the premium option.”
The company hopes that it can encourage people to upgrade by offering the paid-for features as well as regularly prompting people to move up to the Go service. It will also offer other extra features, like offline listening – that will be visible for free users, but they won’t actually be abel to click it unless they pay.
SoundCloud hopes that the new features can sit alongside the existing functionality. That will mean that people can listen to the new Kanye album as they would on Spotify or Apple Music, for instance, but will be able to put it in a playlist that also includes the kinds of remixes that SoundCloud has become known for.
That deal should also allow SoundCloud to change its arrangement with songs’ creators so that they are able to receive money when they are remixed. Problems with licensing and payment have dogged SoundCloud as it has become more successful, with the music industry worrying about people pirating songs and hosting them online.
The huge collection of songs will continue to exist as tracks rather than in the catalogue arrangement that is found on Spotify and Apple Music, for instance. The company encourages people to listen to songs using playlists, rather than as albums.
In December, SoundCloud agreed a deal with music royalty collection society PRS for Music, which settled a lawsuit over songwriters not getting royalties for music used on the site, which paved the way for the launch of the SoundCloud Go service in the UK and Ireland.