Two down, one cranky-ass, immovable force to go.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and we wouldn’t expect any other empire to construct its mighty reign so quickly either. In what seems like an eternity (and especially drawn-out in Internet years), SoundCloud has finally come to an agreement with another one of the three major music labels. Two down, one cranky-ass, immovable force to go.
Yesterday, it was announced that SoundCloud and Universal Music finally reached an agreement, allowing the streaming site access to the label’s catalog, which includes a bevy of artists from labels like A&M Records, Blue Note Records, Capitol Records, Decca, Def Jam Recordings, Deutsche Grammophon, Island Records, Motown and Polydor. The agreement is something SoundCloud has been looking to do ever since it announced its plan to move into a paid structure, not unlike Spotify and Apple Music is in already.
"We are going to launch subscription services later this year," says Alexander Ljung, co-founder and CEO of SoundCloud, in an interview with TechCrunch. "No details to share on that yet other than I would think of it as an add-on rather than a change to the existing service."
The deal with UMG hasn't come easy, what with all of the pesky lawsuits, bad press and general waning popularity due to its strangling practices on independent artists, but here they are, treading water, with two majors willingly allowing access to millions of songs for whatever undisclosed amount the two parties have settled on. We’re guessing it’s not just a few bucks and a yearly ice cream social that sealed the deal — labels are vultures and Universal likely sunk its fangs into a good portion of meat in which to draw blood.
But that’s none of our business.
The third and final major the company has yet to come to an agreement with is Sony, a historical thorn in the side of SoundCloud ever since it pulled its catalog after royalty disputes. Merlin, a faction that represents some 20,000 independent artists (a "4th" major, if you will), reached an agreement with the streaming site in June of 2015.
Spotify still maintains its position as the most successful of the streaming elite, but it too is wrestling around in struggle-mode, trying to turn whatever it can into a viable business. With such a low percentage of music listeners actually paying for music these days, expect all of your favorite listening areas to be riddled with commercials and ads moving forward. It’s the world we live in now …
Good luck to SoundCloud, however, because it seems to be one of the very few areas where independent artists can still upload their tracks and garner plenty of willing listeners without a ton of financial backing. Even with its strong-arming tactics of copyright control, SoundCloud still maintains itself as one of the best resources for unsigned acts — and continues to be a stellar area to search for and discover new and unique artists.
We’ll see if the majors have anything to say about that, though. Power structures always tend to fight back against dissent. That, too, is the world we live in.