Larry Scheinfeld: SoundCloud’s music subscription heads to the U.K. and Ireland

To be sure, SoundCloud was a bit late in the game when it launched its subscription streaming option in the United States last month. Now, the Berlin company heads overseas to the U.K. and Ireland. At £9.99 / €9.99 per month after a 30-day trial, the ad-free service comes with 125 million tracks from 12 million artists.

The move comes as no surprise after the company announced it would extend its agreement with Sony/ATV Music. Starting in the U.K. and Ireland, the company has plans for international domination though the date is TBD. The pivot has been a long time coming as SoundCloud has been slowly inking deals with royalty-collectors worldwide.

Yesterday’s launch in the United Kingdom & Ireland was due in part to a settlement struck between SoundCloud and the Performing Rights Society (PRS), a U.K. music licensing entity which had filed legal action against SoundCloud last summer. The settlement led to PRS dropping the charges that SoundCloud had failed to pay royalties for music they hosted.

spotify vs soundcloud

What separates SoundCloud from other streaming services like Spotify is the ability for anyone to upload their own media onto the cloud to establish engagement. Since its founding in 2007, the company currently has 175 million monthly fans. With new potential listeners coming from outside the U.S. will most likely see a spike in more free and paid subscribers.

Said Eric Wahlforss, co-founder of SoundCloud, “We are starting this [subscription] with a focus on the large audience we already have. It’s a global platform with huge global reach, and we want to take this to as many countries as we can, as fast as we can.”

The service was introduced to the United States first not as beta testing but because the States, continued Wahlforss, is the “[…] hardest market to launch; it’s our biggest market, too.”

“And in many ways it sets the precedent for the rest of the world. A lot of the frameworks that were set were global frameworks, and a lot of the biggest labels have a big influence over other markets.”

Though the tardy streaming music service offerings will face stiff competition, they are confident they will be a viable contender with their Rolodex of artists and compelling user-uploaded content, which the user can decide can go on the free or paid subscription service.

Wahlforss adds, “It’s all of the big artists, and it’s more of the established artists repertoire than what you would have on Spotify, and the reason is simple: We give all the power to the artists and the rights holders.”

Scaling SoundCloud is an evolution long in the making but one with the potential to go head-to-head with giants Apple, Google, and Spotify. As we head further into 2016 and the company continues to roll out to more countries, those in the industry will keep a sharp eye on where this contender will go.
For those who opt not to pay, the free service which includes ads will remain intact.