Most pundits in the recorded music business have been advocating for a low-priced streaming music tier for years, predicting that real growth in that end of the business won’t begin until the entry level price falls from $10 to around $5. While Amazon introduced its low-priced tier at the end of last year, you needed to own either an Echo or Dot to take advantage. Now SoundCloud has launched it’s new $4.99 tier to try to compete with some of the deeper pockets in the industry.
The service is called SoundCloud Go and it offers 120 million songs, no ads, and the ability to listen offline. The company’s original tier, SoundCloud Go Plus, is still $9.99 but offers 150 million songs in its catalog.
Considering that all other streaming services have far fewer songs available (Apple Music has 40 million and Spotify 30 million), that might seem like a strong selling point except for the fact that most of these songs are by unknown artists. Even with the other music services, most streaming is dominated by hitmakers, so high catalog numbers don’t really mean anything in the end.
What does count is registered users and paying subscribers though. SoundCloud says it has 175 million users, but won’t say how many of these actually currently pay for the service.
Many think that the company is in serious financial trouble and that SoundCloud Go is a last-ditch effort to increase its paid subscriber base. There have been numerous rumors over the last few years of a larger company buying the company but that has yet to happen, and the official company line today is that it’s not for sale.
SoundCloud definitely has a place in the music ecosystem as it’s the main repository of indie music, and is key to any indie artist music strategy. That doesn’t mean it can make money from that however, as has been the case so far.