Last week, music-streaming company SoundCloud announced that they were laying off half their staff and shuttering offices in San Francisco and London. As if that wasn’t bad enough, TechCrunch then reported the company would only have enough money to last for 50 more days (which the company denied).
Nevertheless, panic ensued, artists started backing up their tracks, fans doubled down on listening to their Trapsoul jams, and internet archivists scrambled to download SoundCloud’s more than 135 million tracks onto independent servers.
In a blog post on Friday, SoundCloud’s CEO Alex Ljung insisted that “Soundcloud is here to stay” and that the layoffs were part of a master plan to whip the company back into sound financial shape. But will it be enough to save the company? Enter Chance the Rapper, whose album, Coloring Book, was the most downloaded on the platform in 2016.
On Thursday, he mysteriously tweeted “I’m working on the SoundCloud thing” and the next day, wrote that he just “had a very fruitful call” with Ljung.
DeadMau5, of course, just had to weigh in as well, sarcastically congratulating Chance the Rapper on his new “boat anchor” after the rapper tweeted about his conversation with Ljung, comparing discovering talent on SoundCloud to “taking a chick on a date and she’s on Instagram all day” (gross), and offering up his unsolicited opinion on how he would save Soundcloud:
In summary, sure. I could turn the SoundCloud shitshow around with a decent team. But why fix someone else's fuckup after paying for it?
— dead mow cinco (@deadmau5) July 14, 2017
Thanks for your insight, Deadmau5!
If one thing is clear from all this, it’s that so far nobody has really been able to figure out this whole 'music streaming revenue model' in a way that benefits both artists (who need money to support their careers) and consumers (who for the most part, don’t want to pay for the music they listen to).
SoundCloud’s main competitor, Spotify, is still not turning a profit—in fact, their losses grew by 133 percent in 2016. And then there’s always the convoluted, murky quagmire of copyright and licensing issues (or, what happens when thousands of DJ’s put up mixes with copyrighted material on them).
In any case, as a tool to discover new music, SoundCloud is valuable because it provides the lowest barrier for entry for emerging musicians (which, on one hand, can produce this monstrosity, but on the other hand, can also seed vibrant hiphop counter-movements like ‘SoundCloud rap’). Let’s hope they can find a way to work it out somehow.