SoundCloud widens monetization to let paying artists make money

Chance the Rapper rose to prominence via mixtapes posted to SoundCloud.


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SoundCloud is widening its program that lets artists make money off the tracks they upload there, unlocking its SoundCloud Premier program to almost all creators who pay for a $8-a-month Pro account or a $16-a-month Pro Unlimited account. 

SoundCloud, sometimes referred to as the YouTube for audio, said the expansion would unlock revenue for hundreds of thousands of creators. Previously the program was open by invitation only to thousands of artists. Widening Premier has been a goal of the company’s since at least early this year. 

SoundCloud has been a principal force for independent artists as streaming music has become the de facto way most people listen to tunes. While music services like Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora have been instrumental in popularizing streaming with listeners, the easy uploads of SoundCloud, along with YouTube, have made them a powerful tools for performers to get their music out, sometimes reaching heights of popularity once limited to stars backed by a major label. Chance the Rapper, for example, made a name for himself without a label via mixtapes posted to SoundCloud and won the Grammy for best new artist last year.  

“SoundCloud is the world’s largest open audio platform, with content from more than 20 million creators,” Kerry Trainor, SoundCloud’s CEO said in a release. “Expanding SoundCloud Premier’s direct monetization offering from thousands, to hundreds of thousands of eligible creators is an exciting step in our commitment to empowering as many creators as possible to grow their careers first on SoundCloud.”

SoundCloud’s move comes less than three weeks after Spotify, the world’s biggest music service by listeners, opened up the chance for artists to upload directly. Initially, the feature is limited to a few hundred handpicked artists in the US.

To quality for SoundCloud Premier monetization, your music must be original, with you controlling all the copyrights to it. You need to be 18 years old (or whatever age makes you a legal adult in your country of residence) and you can’t have any copyright infringement “strikes” against your account when you enroll. 

Access to Premier is going to begin with eligible creators with at least 5,000 plays in the past month from countries where SoundCloud listener subscriptions and advertising are already available: the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands and New Zealand. The company plans to widen it over time from there. 

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