I’ve got some fucking opinions about SoundCloud…
My friend Sierra has used SoundCloud almost exclusively for her music discovery, consumption, and recommendations, but has remained resolute in her unwillingness to financially invest in the service. As such, her listening is regularly interrupted by ads and limited to bitrates as low as 64kbps. Since I was last employed, I have maintained a vow to her that I would pay for a subscription to SoundCloud Go+ – the premium listener tier of the service – with my own money, once I was once again in place at a steady job. This move would remove all advertising from her listening and up its bitrate to 256kbps, among other benefits.
Two nights ago, we were refueling her car in preparation for another one of our recreational drives into rural Missouri when I made the decision on a whim to simply signup for a trial of Go+ on my own account using Apple Pay, mostly because I knew we’d be going out of effective cell network range and one of Go+’s most emphasized features is its ability to download music locally. (Since my Apple Music subscription expired earlier this year, I only have a single album actually downloaded on my phone.)
*** The above is what I wrote several weeks ago, just as I was beginning my trial period. Now, having experienced a significant amount of time as a SoundCloud Go user, I am a bit sad that my trial is over. To be honest, I fully intended to become a paying subscriber, but my PayPal account was $0.70 short of the $12.99 monthly fee when the first billing cycle came, two weeks ago. This is not a conclusion I expected to come to, as SoundCloud’s fundamental arrangement could not possibly differ any more from the music streaming service I long claimed as my ideal own: Apple Music.
One major worry I would imagine potential subscribers may have when approaching SoundCloud as a replacement for their single music subscription service would revolve around the extent of SoundCloud’s establishment music industry library. There’s no way your Dad’s Sunday barbecue playlist is going to be on SoundCloud, right? Strangely enough, I was unable to find a single track that was not in the library. From my own favorite Keith Jarrett’s archives to the new Dixie Chicks album, every bit of big time record label-distributed music I could conceieve of could be found aside the Go+ badge (though notably, neither of these showed significant playcounts.) As far as the app experience goes, I swear it got smoother as soon as I signed up for Go+. This is probably bullshit, but regardless, with the seemingly ever-widening disparity in the experiences of free vs. premium users, SoundCloud appears to be moving actively away from the former.
I have long said (somewhat in jest) that Chance The Rapper is the only reason SoundCloud still exists.
From a future historian’s perspective, the battle for the definitive name in independent digital music distribution has already won, largely thanks to its relationship with Chance The Rapper, who’s quickly become a “cultural influencer, thought leader, global star,” and one of my generation’s upmost celebrity champions. Obviously, there is little sense trying to determine whether SoundCloud earned his partnership or landed their popular association with his name as long as the artist maintains it publicly, while continuing to give new meaning to the phrase “serially likable.” -“Bandcamp: Streaming’s Secret Savior” | July, 2018
If CNET_ was asking the question a year before that Bandcamp essay, I think I can feel properly varified. What I’d really like to know, now: does Chance still feel the same way about the streaming service after the launch of SoundCloud Go+? Considering that I am far from a real music journalist, I do not have any more contact resources than you have. That said, I left [a comment on his Facebook Page](https://www.facebook.com/chancetherapper/posts/3299672310124810?commentid=3319045628187478). I guess we’ll see.
Some more technical bits: SoundCloud is now castable on Chromecast, but not supported by Apple CarPlay, for whatever that’s worth. Notably apart from Bandcamp and Apple Music and aligned with Spotify, SoundCloud is explicitly investing in algorithmic music discovery, which means its users are doing the curatorial work. I am doing/have done the curatorial work. That means the DnB crowd is going to receieve Toto recommendations, given what I sought out for this post. You’re welcome, and sorry…
- While I was surprisingly unable to find any Tweets or Evernotes further evangelizing Apple Music (I suspect I’m thinking of an old, untranscribed Drycast episode,) I found real magic in the service as I perceieved it: $9.99 a month for all of iTunes. 13 year-old me would considerthat one helluva deal.
- Naturally, if you know of one, please do comment and/or drop me a line.
- In fact, it is the only streaming app I found that _does not _have CarPlay support. Even Bandcamp and MixCloud for iOS do!