There’s been tons and tons of attention on Soundcloud recently, and tons of mixed reviews. Every DJ/Music Producer out there has their own personal opinion on Soundcloud, and even casual listeners are now starting to chime in with their view points. To start this off, let me first explain what Soundcloud is in case you don’t know.
Soundcloud started in 2007 and is a music distribution site. This means that musicians, comedians, speakers, etc can upload their tracks to Soundcloud and post their links for people all around the world. In a way, think of Soundcloud like YouTube, except for audio.
There have been a lot of recent negative complaints about Soundcloud, and while I could ramble on about my personal opinions, I want to focus this post on the biggest issue: Copyrights.
The truth is, most artists don’t understand the legal side of music. In addition, people are very reluctant to change (think about anytime Facebook changes its layout), and that definitely adds to the equation.
I say this because it’s extremely important to understand the full scope of the Soundcloud Copyright debate.
According to Soundcloud’s legal terms, you can NOT upload anything that you don’t have the rights to. Here’s why: If you upload one of my tracks, for example, and someone listens to it, I don’t get any of the credit. Now this can really open up Pandora’s Box, because it could be argued that it promotes distribution and my outreach, but that’s a conversation for a different time.
It depends on how you look at it, but the general idea is that if you listen to someone’s track completely for free, your not offering any revenue for the time and work they put into making that track.
For me personally, I’m a big believer in releasing my music for free, but I’m in the minority – the big issue, that really causes a stir, is labels. Labels own a certain percentage of the rights to a track, and that’s where problems arise.
Here’s what the issue boils down to: On any other platform, the labels (and artists) get a percentage anytime a track is played or purchased. This is why every music service out there has 3 different ways of compensation: 1. Post ads to pay for fees 2. Have a subscription membership 3. Have links for you to purchase the song directly. That way, you can listen to as many tracks as you want for free, and the labels & artists still get their money. It’s a win-win.
With Soundcloud, however, this isn’t the case. You can upload any track, and not only can people listen to that track completely for free (without any compensation to labels or artists), but you can even list the song for download – creating a whole new set of problems.
Now Soundcloud does have detection software in place, but it’s far from foolproof and a quick Google search will show you ways to work around it.
This is why, from my perspective, I really think Soundcloud should have ads on their site. At the time of this post, the ad program is still in the beta phase, but I really feel like it should be implemented more like YouTube does. Yes, it might be annoying or frustrating, but there’s a lot more issues.
There’s been tons of artists speaking out about how they hate the ads, but like I said above, they’re missing the point. Obviously I would much rather have no ads than ads, but all the legal issues that are arising are from labels/artists not getting paid.
In addition, it doesn’t come as news to artists that numerous Soundclouds are being shut down daily. People’s remixes, bootlegs, DJ mixes, and more, are being taken down like crazy, and it all revolves around the fact that Soundcloud doesn’t want to get into any more legal issues with them not paying the appropriate parties.
By having ads, people wouldn’t have to worry about their remixes/bootlegs being taken down, and it would relieve the stress of any issues whatsoever.
Here’s an example of how YouTube does it:
As you can see above, I did a remix of Pump This by Snails and HeRobust, and because I used parts of their original track (which I don’t have the rights to), I can’t make money off it. So basically, YouTube says that it’s okay for me to post it and people can still listen to it, but now ads will appear to help cover the costs of what they have to pay the appropriate parties.
On my Light Nearby album, however, YouTube gives me the choice to either not put ads on it, or put ads on it – except this time, I make money from the ad revenue. This is because I made the entire album, and therefore own all the rights to it.
Either way, YouTube has different strategies for adjusting to copyrighted/non-copyrighted content, and it’s still free for the listener to hit play.
In my opinion, that’s the direction Soundcloud should go. Yes, there’s a lot of negative feedback about having ads on the site, but it will reduce a ton of issues that are getting worse as time goes on. At this point in time, something’s gotta give, and it will be interesting to see how this whole issue unfolds as time goes on.
P.S. Feel free to check out my Soundcloud here: Freccero Soundcloud