There’s been some confusion from our readers and existing beta testers of SoundCloud (see their forums / login required) about what you can get with a free account on the service.

Co-founder Eric Wahlforss answers some of these concerns in comments. With a free account, you will be able to:

  • Send/upload up to five tracks a month, of any length/size
  • You can upload as many tracks as you like, but only your ten most recent tracks will be visible to others (unless you delete tracks). No tracks are deleted – you can upgrade/downgrade at will.
  • You get a DropBox, and the most recent five tracks dropped will appear (again, if you delete tracks as you listen to them, you’ll see more)
  • Make contact lists with up to 20 contacts
  • See basic stats

So, the free account does look reasonably usable for light use. That said, they are clearly trying to push people to pro accounts, which start at EUR9 / mo. (Even separate USD pricing would help, I think … even though the dollar has recovered a bit in recent weeks, unlike our – ahem – stock exchange.) Eric does promise more is coming in those pro accounts to entice you, if you feel the value proposition isn’t there yet.

Full details:

From comments:

Peter, this is Eric, one of the founders of SoundCloud. Thanks for a great post.

It’s been our vision from the very beginning to make SoundCloud more or less ad-free and totally streamlined for the needs of musicians and labels. Like other websites that provide real value to people/companies and unlike slow/bloated/ad-ridden/"free"-but-oh-we’ll-waste-your-time-instead sites, we do charge for our services.

Again to clarify, there will *of course* exist a free account. Sorry about the vague communication on this so far. It will hopefully be clear tomorrow. The free account will have certain limitations that I will list here (you’re really among the first ones to know).

You can:

  • Send 5 tracks/month
  • See the 10 latest sent tracks (they will also show on your profile)
  • Get a DropBox, but you’ll only see the last 5 tracks dropped (you can always remove tracks to see more)
  • Make contact lists with up to 20 people in them

The free account will work fine for quite a lot of use-cases. And you will always be able to go back to it, should you realize you don’t need a PRO accounts. Easy. We won’t delete any of your stored tracks, or anything else for that matter.

I should also mention that we’re working on a few *very* cool things that will land in the PRO accounts later this fall, like sets uploading/sharing, versioning of tracks, and more…

cheers // eric [currently working the nightshift on perfecting the site before the release...]

Dropboxes from SoundCloud can be added to your site.

I was confused on the stats portion and track limitations, so I asked Eric to clarify for us.

Do you get the same view of stats in the free account as you do in the light pro account?

yes, the basic stats graphs as in the PRO light account, but not info on exactly who listened and who downloaded.

What are the limitations on how many tracks you can upload?

you can upload as many tracks as you want over time, but only 5 tracks per month. only the last 10 will actually be shown on your profile, but you can always "unlock" your account to show them all by upgrading to any PRO account. if you downgrade back to free then they will again be hidden so that only the last 10 are shown (just like on flickr).

So, what do you get if you upgrade to the pro accounts? You lose the track limitations, for one, with 15 tracks per month (EUR9/mo) to unlimited tracks (EUR59/mo). With the EUR29+ accounts, you get enhanced support, more stats, and a branded dropbox, so it’s clear those are aimed at labels, venues, and the like.

I expect there will still be some pricing skepticism, though. I’m curious to hear – will the free account be enough for you? Any of you thinking you might pony up for one of the pro accounts? Or are you looking elsewhere?

We expect more changes to hit SoundCloud over the coming weeks, so we’ll be watching. I think this is a really important development, and one worth researching. I’m sure it’ll have some competition, and we’ll cover that, as well.

  • http://actueldesign.com actuel

    ahh, peter, you're such an agreeable and democratic fellow. thanks for looking into this a bit further and getting clarity. we'll see how this SC thing shakes out.

  • http://mattmarksmusic.blogspot.com Mafoo

    So many companies, from conglomerates to upstarts overestimate how much people care about ads. Musicians are a pretty tolerant bunch. I would much rather deal with a few banners than worry about an added 9 euros (or more) being sucked out of my bank account each month. It may not be much, but it's an added stress. I'm a beta-tester, so I guess I'll have a few free months, but it will have really wow me to get me to commit to a Pro membership.

    My guess though, this is a deathblow. Sucks though, I was excited about SoundCloud.

  • gbsr

    you know. 5 tracks per month with the ability to only see the last 5 uploaded? that sounds like a pretty damn bad deal if you ask me.

    the question people will have to think about is this: why should you pay 9 euros/29euros/59 euros (yes, thats their priceplan) per month for a company, so that people can listen to your music for free? yes, it ha some other nifty features, but does that make up for this hillariously expensive priceplan? hardly.

  • Justin

    I like Soundcloud, but I can't see myself paying for a pro account. As much as I dislike myspace the music service is free and I've been able to reach out to a much wider audience than I had been able to prior to using it. Also if you already have a following it's relatively cheap and easy to set up a webhost and site to promote your music. I have one that costs me $6 a month but I get over 6TB of bandwidth a month and 600GB of storage space. The only draw back to that is that you have to work harder to promote your site.

  • http://aerotone.300l600.de/index.php?id=1,120,0,0,1,0 aerotone

    Really sad. SC seemed to be a nice tool (dropbox, player), I really enjoyed and used. I won´t switch to a Pro account. If the promotion tool like SC is your most expensive asset (for me as a netlabel, which provides audio for free), then something is wrong.

  • Joost

    I think the free option is good enough for me. Just for quick sending a track. That is better then letting them use my ftp.

    I like the display of the wave

  • http://thugfucker.org Greg

    I have to say I've been using SC for the last few months and really do love it.. however the mid-size pro account at 29 Euros/month is definitely *way* too expensive given its current feature set (though i'm curious what the 'more' they're bringing out will be).

    My main criticism of the pricing is that I basically pay about 9 Euros per month for my Internet hosting covering website, email, FTP server etc.. So while Soundcloud is a great service, I don't see how 29 Euros per month is as justifiable an expense for this… We'll see. We had considered using FatDrop or one of these services for promotion but in the end it just turned out to be unnecessary for the cost. I'd rather spend more on proper PR or just do it ourselves via FTP, iChat, etc..

    I do really like this service but the pricing does seem way off at the moment.. I guess I'll see what happens after January when my free comp account runs out. Maybe they'll prove me wrong. Or maybe they'll adjust the pricing.. I have a feeling most people will feel the same way. And with the economy in t3h suck at the moment it's definitely a hard sell..

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  • http://toilville.com peter

    I just wonder why no one has any social networking mp3 players for pen tools like drupal or joomla.

  • http://www.whowillwinesc.com eurovision

    soundcloud very good.. but i get music so little :(

  • LABELOWNER

    no way, if they want to make it big time it has to be free!!!

  • jwhite

    I really REALLY do not like the limitations either. This might be dead on arrival in terms of serious users.

    That said, casuals might really like it. The platform seems like it'll spread quickly… it just won't be deep. I imagine if you combine this with another site that holds the REST of your tracks, then it not only seems okay, it's completely useful. But for SC, this spells doom. They probably won't get anyone to pay for the added stuff… way too much. I'll just as soon just put my more recent tracks on there, and then have a blog linked that contains the rest of my tracks… hosted on something like the internet archive or otherwise.

    Sorry, SC. It could have been… but it's already looking like you're forgetting the whole other half of the web that you're competing with.

  • gbsr

    id be more happy with soundcloud beeing closed, invite only and they based their income and hosting payments on advertisements. we as musician are pretty tolerable when it comes to these things. the bottom line is still that we are paying them so that people can listen to our music for free. im not sure what kind of moron thinks that paying someone for a service that is provided free on the other end sounds like a good deal.

  • http://www.granularmatter.com George P. Macklin

    I was really excited when I first came across SoundCloud and have loved using it over the last few months. It's a shame that it the price plan is going to sink it. After the trial period I will just let it sink into the pit along with the other community sites. It was fun while it lasted.

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  • http://www.keyofgrey.com Sean

    SoundCloud looks like it has a unique way for its users to distribute music. I'm excited to see how it progresses out of beta…and hopefully adjusts its pricing plans as a result of customer feedback.

  • http://www.digitallofi.com/words Puffer

    I'm not a beta tester, and so this is the first I've heard about soundcloud. For starters, it looks like a fantastic idea, and idea that has long since been needed.

    I see the bind soundcloud is in, however. How does one make, you know, money from such a venture? Further another comment, you could use, say, joomla to create a social network/music sharing site. Almost "out of the box" with a few extensions, and a little bit of php hoo-doo. Jeeze, bring on an AJAX or Ruby programmer and really trick it out. So, say you bring development in under $10,000. The real cost will be storage and bandwidth. That's no small chunk of change there.

    At this point, if you're going with a no-advertising policy, where does the money come to cover that? I agree, subscription, especially in these uncertain economic times is risky.

    You want to sell me. Make it $15/$25 *a year* – a one time fee, like registering a domain name. Discounts if you pre-buy a few years at a whack. Each new band/label you set up is another $15/$25. (You could, say, post multiple bands to one account, but for labels looking to promote acts and want to have a customized web page, multiple pages makes a lot of sense.) I get the sense that people would rather pay a one time fee than an ongoing charge.

    But, I'll be interested to see where this goes.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Well, it's interesting that everyone gravitates back to what Flickr Pro pricing is … that should tell you something. Flickr found a really great sweet spot.

    I hear what you're saying, but I will defend SoundCloud on the development side, Puffer. First, that looks like more than $10,000 of dev work. Second, you don't want to use Joomla — trust me. I know, it's an example, but … sorry, I have a special, dark place in my heart for how much I hate Joomla. ;) Third, it's really more than a dev project. I think content is where it's at in social networks, even those that have been successful in the past. Facebook grew out of specific communities on campuses. MySpace got an injection from the social scene in LA and other music towns. I expect if you looked really closely at their early history, you'd see some serious leg work getting real people onboard. And likewise, SoundCloud seems to have carved out a niche among some key electronic folks and labels — it also helps that they're in Berlin.

    But I do welcome this frankness. You guys are the customers, potential or otherwise. And it's interesting to hear the positive and negative alike.

    Meanwhile, CDM really needs to do a prize fight between SoundCloud and Bandcamp. :) Any other tips?

  • http://www.dplex.com dplex

    I don't begrudge SoundCloud's right to make money off of their hard work, but does there really need to be three (four if you count free) pricing levels? It just feels too complex and fussy.

    The real test will be to see how SoundCloud grows now that the beta has ended. The collaborative/social features are its differentiator, and the quality of its membership will have a significant effect on the quality of the service.

  • http://habakukk.ogrim.net Ogrim

    I want to use this site as a social platform for sharing self-made beats and loops with my pals. Seems like the perfect platform where we can share, create and discuss! We are all students, and live in different cities, therefore we need a platform to communicate. I'm thinking to use SC like a group conversation in msn, or like a password protected facebook group. I am going to share short clips, like beats that only are a few bars long. I will not use much bandwith or space, but there will be several files. The LIGHT edition will not give me enought files to share, but the STANDARD is totally overkill. They have failed very hard with the pricing, that will be their downfall.

  • http://www.digitallofi.com/words Puffer

    Peter,

    Just to be clear, my joomla example was just in relation to another poster saying you could build a similar app with an open-source CMS. Obviously, SoundCloud is a serious web venture with a lot of development hours. I can see it's not even close to a $10,000 project. I was merely pointing out that there are huge costs to running a site that has even a fraction of what SoundCloud is offering, over and above what it costs to develop.

    On an inside baseball note: I'd be interested to hear why you hate joomla so much. The latest releases have cleaned up a lot of the mambo slop and tightened up code. But, is there something else, besides WP, that you think is a viable CMS development platform? I'm not being a fanboi, as I know there's many good reasons to dislike joomla. But is there another mature CMS that has as many extensions? Just curious.

  • http://www.jaymis.com Jaymis Loveday

    @Puffer: I've done most of the CMS development on CDM, starting with the migration away from Mambo in 2005-6. I also spent a year working for a web development company which worked almost entirely in Mambo, I left the company just as Joomla 1.0 was being released.

    I'm sure Joomla has made loads of progress since, but the fact remains that the core of the program is created in a way which isn't compatible with how we work, and our aims to have full control over our code, and have the site looking and working precisely as we envision it. Joomla is great for getting a site up with loads of functionality, but if you want full control of your code it's a struggle, and unfortunately a lot of the extensions are extremely sloppy. I think because the developers are in the Joomla headspace of "it doesn't matter, as long as it works".

    That's not to say that WordPress is a perfect CMS or that there aren't bad WordPress extensions out there, but creating a site with the precise code you want is much more intuitive and less painful for us with WP.

    As to the future: ModX doesn't have as many extensions as these more mature (decrepit?) projects, but it's built from the ground up with standards-compliance and accessibility in mind.

  • http://www.digitallofi.com/words Puffer

    Jaymis, Thanks, man. I love me some WordPress, especially since skinning it is elegant, and the code is still manages to have a surprisingly small footprint. joomla still has a lot of sloppy code, and it's pretty bulky, but the improvements are good: template over-rides, so you no longer have to hack at the core files, is especially useful. And mambots are about to go away for good. Anyway, I'll definitely check out ModX.

  • http://www.jaymis.com Jaymis Loveday

    Hah! Mambots. I'd forgotten about those things. Good riddance. Template overrides is a nice touch too, but for me it's a more basic, idealogical thing: Joomla and I weren't destined to be together, and I won't work with it ever again if I can avoid it.

    Sadness aside – we're actually very close to having a new version of the CDM template released, which will clean up our code a lot, and finally make CDM XHTML compliant!

  • http://www.mixmatchmusic.com Gavroche

    Soundcloud seems to be an excellent tool for musicians, and I'm excited to check it out! Although it sux to be limited to 5 tracks, I think that's fair. One thing I would love to see as part of the offering is some kind of audio editing tool that promotes collaboration online. This, if simple enough, seemingly would allow fans to get involved in the music making, which would turn the service into a way for artists to engage fans.

    So, I'm not sure about SC being a facebook for musicians, as that would require bringing together not only creators but other "voyeurs" who engage with the content created.

    This is something we're working on at MixMatchMusic.com. We have aggregated musicians and fans in a social network to allow everybody to get involved in the collaboration. Musicians who contribute content can even make some money when non-contributors use it their mixes.

    Whether its our service, SC, or somebody else, it's clear that online tools need to be applied to help musicians create music together over the web. That's evolution.

  • http://myspace.com/whiterainbowwhiterainbow whiterainbow

    the features on soundcloud are totally amazing and i could see myself really putting some good use into it, for hosting unfinished tracks, remixs, collaborations, etc. seems so rad. but i can't afford any sort of monthly fee, so i am really bummed. i make a lot of music and work on a lot of different projects at once with a lot of different people, so i was excited when i found out about this site. i have a free beta pro account, but even still, limiting to 15 tracks a month is going to hamper my style as far as using it for like, an easy way to get masters approved by a client, or sending lots of versions back and forth. and getting a deeper pro account is just WAY out of my price range. i really don't know what type of musician would have that kind of cash. and if they did, why wouldn't they just get/use some private server space?

    my call is:

    amazing site, but too expensive to net users who are used to almost everything being free. yearly fee is more mellow, like flickr, like everyone already said.

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  • Rch1998

    does it cost money