It's happening. After years of speculation about what the next steps in SoundCloud's ongoing chase for monetization will be, the Berlin-based streaming platform has gone on an aggressive, worldwide offensive over copyright claims this week.
DJs, producers, and content outlets around the world felt the strain as strikes, takedowns, and account suspensions crippled their catalogues in one fell swoop. "They took everything I don't own 100% from my page," DJ Owen Bones tweeted at THUMP. "I'm jumping ship."
After previously adding advertisements to the listening experience and signing royalties deals with everyone from Warner Music Group to Merlin, a licensing agency that represents a massive number of indie labels, SoundCloud's newly enacted policy aggressively removes mixes that include unlicensed tracks, tracks that include unlicensed samples, and any bootleg remix that bears a recognizable sonic resemblance to an original. All of this information is combed by algorithm, leaving SoundCloud with a "take down first, dispute later" policy.
It's not that usage of copyrighted recordings or sounds is now more illegal than it used to be, rather that SoundCloud has acted upon their legal right (major labels would call it a legal obligation) to remove the crimes from their platform. And it's not just aspiring artists who have felt the heat. UK underground stalwart Roska commented: "It's turned from one of the best platforms to one I contemplate using every day."
SoundCloud has never been a profitable enterprise. Their turn towards monetization has found them siding with major labels and agencies over the everyday user in their quest to survive as a business operation.
Although SoundCloud was once considered to be a haven for aspiring electronic music producers, its recent actions have left the underground community alienated, but so reliant on the platform that they aren't sure where to move. As UK-based DJ Ollie Beavis eloquently stated on Twitter, "It's shit, but they basically have you by the nuts so you have to use it."
Is this to be the case for much longer?
Check out Jemayel Khawaja's SoundCloud, breh - @JemayelK