SoundCloud is revamping its creator suite and plans to launch new tools that allow artists to connect directly with their biggest fans. The company is betting that interactivity will set it apart from giants like Spotify and Apple Music and other distribution services like TuneCore and DistroKid as the DIY music artist market gets busier.
The first step is a new dashboard for creators. In the old version, users had to switch between metrics such as earnings, streams, and top tracks. With the new version, artists can see all those stats at a glance. While that may be easier, it doesn’t offer anything new yet.
What will be new, according to Tracy Chan, who heads SoundCloud’s creator division, is a feature that will show artists their best fans. Last year, SoundCloud debuted a new royalty allocation system that splits a listener’s subscription revenue among the artists they actually listen to. This is different from the standard prorated model at Spotify and Apple, where all subscription costs are pooled and allocated to artists based on who has the greatest number of streams. Soon SoundCloud will show artists who their biggest contributors are. Chan says that allowing artists to connect with those superfans is expected to provide opportunities to monetize on other platforms by selling merch, tickets or Patreon subscriptions.
“We can actually go back to that concept that you don’t need scale. You need to focus on your 1000 [or] 100 real fans,” Chan says.
It’s an acknowledgment of how hard it is for artists to monetize streaming and how hard it is for new acts to break out. Around 100,000 new songs are added to the streamers every day, making it harder for new artists to gain traction. According to Luminate, the research firm behind the Billboard charts, consumer listening to new music has declined despite the plethora of new songs.
So SoundCloud looks back to the golden days of MySpace, when building fandom was the main goal. “This really helps us make SoundCloud a kind of partner for other music streaming services, creator economy services, and live streaming platforms,” Chan said.