Soundcloud Storm Clouds
They seem to be gathering at Soundcloud. At least, that’s what we’re all seeing across media on the internet. Will it close down? Will it be saved? What does it all mean for content creators? Let’s investigate the Soundcloud Storm Clouds.
The Soundcloud Storm Clouds
To bring you up to speed, in May Soundcloud announced it was cutting 40% of staff and closing London and San Francisco offices. It’s also been reported in places like The Financial Times that it might be running out of cash, supposedly only enough to last 50 days into their Q4 Financial year.
These reports leave a lot of uncertainty to the nearly 200 million monthly users, many wondering what will be come of the service, and their work.
In order to restore some faith in Soundcloud, Co-founder and CEO Alex Ljung has countered the claims of the business struggling with a statement he posted on the Soundcloud Blog.
In it he reassures users that “…SoundCloud is not going away. Not in 50 days, not in 80 days or anytime in the foreseeable future. Your music is safe.”
With respect to the closing of offices and staff cuts: “Last week we had to make some tough decisions to let go of some of our staff, but we did this to ensure SoundCloud remains a strong, independent company.”
Soundcloud further combated reports (especially by Techcrunch) releasing a statement in Variety. In this they explained that “…there are a number of inaccuracies within the TechCrunch article. They seem to stem from a misinterpretation of information by one or two laid off employees during a recent all hands meeting.”
But, in the past Ljung has also apparently admitted to investors that that company could go bankrupt.
A hero steps in?
As the bitter PR fight continues a new player entered the game in the form of Chance The Rapper when he tweeted:
I’m working on the SoundCloud thing
— Lil Chano From 79th (@chancetherapper) July 13, 2017
Just had a very fruitful call with Alex Ljung. @SoundCloud is here to stay.
— Lil Chano From 79th (@chancetherapper) July 14, 2017
He also retweeted (along with thousands of others):
*airhorn* Spread the word: your music isn’t going anywhere. Neither are we.
— SoundCloud (@SoundCloud) July 14, 2017
There are three ways to interpret this series of events, two of which feel liking winning scenarios for the Soundcloud users and one which feels improbable to me.
- Either Soundcloud is fine and Ljung reassured him that in a phone call
- Chance offered to inject some cash to help out.
- Alex Ljung is lying about the fate of Soundcloud.
Expanding point 3 let’s ask why?
By lying Ljung would get Soundcloud nowhere. While it might protect interested parties from the damage of a brand struggling – at least in the short term – in the long term if Soundcloud is truly struggling then finding a solution quickly is imperative.
What are some other possibilities?
Soundcloud could be sold.
In this scenario Deezer has emerged as a potential buyer. Spotify looks unlikely to get involved.
Soundcloud could truly close it’s doors.
This spells bad news for creators who have been using the Soundcloud platform to distribute and get their work heard (including wizzFX), but there might be some hope in the form of a group called The Archive Team.
They plan to archive Soundcloud with, or without their help. While the project looks to try to back the entire service up, it’s worth noting the scale of this project is likely to top 2.5 petabytes of data which could run up storage costs around the $2-3 million mark. Other archive solutions could entail only taking older material from the early days of Soundcloud, and popular tracks. Either way it’s an ambitious and daunting task.
Soundcloud stays but it’s reputation is damaged.
With all the uncertainty in the space, people could leave Soundcloud for other options. Either because they want to mitigate their risk of losing their work while it’s future is uncertain, or because they can’t ethically continue using a service that seems to treat its employee’s so poorly (if the reports are to be believed).
So, what does this mean for content creators?
At wizzFX I host various freelancing highlight reels and share The Radio Imaging Podcast. Personally I have some of my best work and my own music creations (they’re not good) hosted. At IMGR we use it to highlight our work each month. Many use Soundcloud for exactly the same reason.
Will I depart Soundcloud?
I already keep an archive of all my demo’s and tracks. So I’m not in danger of losing anything. This is just good practice (I do this because the Soundcloud format is of a lower quality than what I save my material at). So I’m not in danger if Soundcloud did cease to exist.
Does the way that Soundcloud has recently handled the closing of it’s offices and cutting of staff bother me? Yes. I agree that it’s not ideal and doesn’t paint the company in the best light if true, but it doesn’t change my view that it is a great service for hosting audio in an easily shareable way. If those cuts mean that the business can become profitable then although tough for those affected to except, it does mean Soundcloud can keep it’s doors open.
So I’m going to continue using Soundcloud. I’m going to continue to support it. By uploading tracks, and utilising the Soundcloud infrastructure I’m saying that I believe in it, and I want it to continue. Because I feel like in all likelihood Soundcloud will continue to exist, one way or another.
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