SoundCloud’s On SoundCloud program, which includes the ability to add optional advertising to your content as a revenue source, is initially available only to Premier partners. Premier is a new, invite-only membership level that has extra features the rest of the community doesn’t get – though, as with advertising, SoundCloud says most of those features will eventually be available to all paid users.

But just who are those Premier partners getting the list? SoundCloud sent over the complete launch list to CDM so we can all have a look. It includes some big names (Sony, BMG), but also artists, comedy content, and podcasts.

What these users get that the rest of us don’t:
1. A “visual” profile (looks different than the standard profile page)
2. More stats, additional account management support
3. Geographic controls (for restricting content by region)
4. The ability to have promoted tracks/profiles
5. Revenue sharing from ads (though eventually, you’ll get that, too)

SoundCloud had previously said even things like new profile looks will eventually be available to others.

Despite all the speculation about Universal Music Group and whatnot, what you get is sort of a random sprinkling of different kinds of content. As it has since SoundCloud’s founding, electronic dance music is featured heavily – though it’s more mainstream-focused channels, not the likes of M-nus Records or Warp or Ghostly or the like. (In fact, labels don’t really feature so heavily here at all.) You’ll also notice that spoken word – a big focus for SoundCloud – is represented. So this isn’t just about music, either. And for those of you listening from the United States, these are the ads you’ll be hearing.

Labels and distributors
Red Bull Sound Select

Comedy Networks
Funny or Die
AST Records

StarTalk Radio


MCNs (that’s “multi-channel network”, apparently, and a YouTube-coined acronym)
Maker Studios (audio focused deal)
Fullscreen (audio focused deal)
INDMusic (music focused deal)
EDM Network (music focused deal)

Independent Artists
Little Simz
Big Gigantic
Cyra Morgan
Oliver Sadie

Advertising Launch Partners:
Red Bull
Comedy Central

The publishers BMG and Sony are, of course, really interesting inclusions, as those are where one would expect significant licensing costs that would need to be offset by ads.

I do notice that most of the kind of music that I care about on SoundCloud is missing here. On the other hand, I don’t really need the SoundCloud users I interact with to be “premier.” And given that many of you have said, directly, you don’t want to enable advertising, this may all be a non-issue.

Where SoundCloud Came From – And How It’s Evolving

One commenter posted a video that I found really interesting (and actually remember watching, when first writing about the SoundCloud launch for CDM). It’s SoundCloud, as it existed on day one. The video reveals a lot about how SoundCloud saw itself – as a means for sending tracks between people, which at the time was a pain. Take a look:

SoundCloud: The Tour from SoundCloud on Vimeo.

It’s remarkable to me that a lot of this vision survives five years later, which in Internet terms is no small matter. And for all of the complaining about UI changes, you’ll also notice that SoundCloud works more or less as it always has. Australian DJ Michelle Owen, who narrates, is still an active user, too. (She missed out on claiming soundcloud.com/michelle, though! I could have grabbed soundcloud.com/peter, but, you know – Swedish-founded company, that ain’t happening.)

Keep an eye peeled for a Google search box in the old Safari populated with “m-nus myspace.” Ah, how times have changed.

You also see two recent complaints regarding SoundCloud. Let’s look at each, and how the company has responded.

First, the original SoundCloud did include public sharing and players. But there was a much greater emphasis on sending tracks. You could set up a dropbox, then have music from that dropbox appear in a feed.

That functionality today is missing, and the replacement may or may not satisfy the original request. The notion is that you use private messages instead. That’s good from the perspective of a filter, but it’d be great if the feature were more discoverable, if we could still have these sorts of widgets, and if the resulting feed were easily navigable. (Okay, so, in other words, they really haven’t addressed this at all.) For those of us using SoundCloud for booking events or (ahem) writing press, this is a major omission. That may be a niche feature, but it explains why SoundCloud has angered some hard-core users, and some time after the major SoundCloud redesign, we haven’t seen any real progress. (In fact, I think advertising still has virtually no impact on those of us “advanced” users, but the absence of the original dropbox vision is a huge deal, by contrast.)

Read how SoundCloud answers this in their help documentation:

Where did Dropbox go?

It may not satisfy you, but it does offer some helpful advice.

The other recent gripes about SoundCloud centered on the redesign of their iOS app. Some of you really use iOS heavily for working with SoundCloud. The new app was innovative as far as simple UI and gestures, but it killed the feature that many of you relied on most – playlist creation.


SoundCloud is working on adding that feature back, and details the development process in a blog post from this summer. And yes, the headline sums up matters (you users were, evidently, loud!):

We hear you

Also, it’s good to know that you can use AudioCopy to upload sounds from mobile. I never much liked the upload function in SoundCloud, so this to me is actually a superior solution.

In answering that, they get at a core design issue. Apart from business models, some of what has happened at SoundCloud is as much to do with retaining simplicity – the elegance seen in the video above – while adding features, which is always a challenge. And they frame that challenge in the mobile app article:

Keeping the products we build easy to use and straightforward to understand takes time. Simple is complex.

You can disagree with how they’ve met this challenge, but I think you can’t argue with the aphorism here.

I’m not remotely convinced the the addition of opt-in advertising changes the experience of SoundCloud. To me, the ongoing question is how the core users who use the service most heavily, and pay subscription fees, will be met with changes to the Web and apps. That’s not a battle SoundCloud wins or loses in a single moment; it is a continuous contest for the service. And we as users get to judge whether it meets our needs.

For DJ mixes, I actually think it’s generally the wrong service to use at the moment, so we’ll look at that in upcoming stories. But if you have some input into how it works for sharing original music, or questions for SoundCloud, or want to share especially good music resources on the service, let us know.

  • http://www.3rev.net William Herrera

    My biggest complaint are (aside from no Windows Phone app, though Audiocloud is pretty awesome) is that I can’t filter specific tracks from my Stream- I like a lot of artists, but I don’t necessarily like what they share. I know its strange it stands to reason that if you like Artist X then he/she recommends artist Y you would like that. But no, some of my favorite artists and friends I follow (because they are my friends) recommend total crap or they overshare and my feed gets filled up and I miss stuff from people I do want to hear from. I don’t want to unfollow people just to clean my stream (but I do). I just want a button to hide stuff I have no interest in.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Exactly. And what you describe isn’t just a SoundCloud problem – it’s a problem with the entire social Web, the way it’s been constructed. And it seems like a solvable problem. (Come on, especially with billions of dollars in funding.)

  • B.C. Thunderthud

    What SoundCloud is to me is the service that hosts the playlists like the one in your Riser article. Clips of synths and sample libraries basically. I’ve listened to a few DJ mixes but I don’t think I’ve ever listened to any original music on SoundCloud, I’m not opposed to the idea but it’s not something I’ve explored. Obviously if they put 15 second ads before those clips it will be completely broken and I don’t imagine they’ll do that.

    The fact that they’re driving away the DJs and mashup people sucks but is unsurprising, I don’t really care about the rest of their model but I hope it’s successful enough that they can keep doing the stuff that I do find useful. Basically I don’t expect to ever hear an ad on SoundCloud.

    • Jason

      Interesting. I pretty much exclusively listen to original music on Soundcloud, and quite a lot of it. I also upload my own original music and am generally quite happy with Soundcloud for that. It would be interesting to see a break down of all the types of audio uploaded to the service. I always assumed it was mostly original music, but I realize now that that may only be my perception.

    • jmcq

      I pretty much use Soundcloud the same way; listening to original music and uploading my own. Occasionally I’ll listen to a DJ mix or a label mix. I’m surprised they have a focus on spoken word recordings, don’t know that I’ve ever listened to any on Soundcloud.

    • ElectroB

      Soundcloud is different things for different people, I guess.

      Personally I’ve always used it to upload my own audio (some original music and examples of sound design work) and I’ve used it mostly to listen to original music, sound collages and soundwalks, and podcasts from radio stations, record labels or websites.

      I’ve discovered quite a few new musicians, bands and composers through the platform over the years, and I never tought of Soundcloud as a specific go-to place for DJ mixes. Also – and this is important – I don’t search for music within Soundcloud’s website that much – most of what I’ve discovered is through embedded players in other websites when I’m checking out new music (and I guess this social networking + embedding technology is Soundcloud’s great innovation over the last few years)

  • http://melodiefabriek.com Marco Raaphorst

    one of the things missing in soundcloud: a way to search your own songs.

  • http://soundcloud.com/yanisko James Yanisko

    I would say the most important feature missing from the mobile version is all of the social features. I feel that soundcloud became big (at least this is why people I know use it) because it was an easily embeddable, and you could comment at specific moments in a sound.

    In the mobile app, you used to be able to leave comments, see new comments left on your tunes, respond to them, see who has recently liked / commented on your sounds, etc.

    They instead assume people only want to use the mobile app for a radio, and will use the computer to update the social aspects….which seems ludicrous to me.

  • https://soundcloud.com/r3z0n8r Darrell Westbury

    The new mobile app no longer lets you see the names of the people that LIKE your tracks… It also completely removes the ability to see and create comments… For artists that use these elements to connect with their audience, these are inexcusable omissions… All interactions with friends, peers and fans needs to happen from a computer now, which really limits the mobile experience to that of a subpar “Music Player App”… Especially when compared to Spotify or Pandora…