SoundCloud CEO Alexander Ljung Talks About Evolving The Platform, Negotiating With Labels
In an interview, SoundCloud CEO Alexander Ljung sounded off on various issues affecting the company and its future. He discussed how the company plans to become profitable and compete with other streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music.
SoundCloud has been making news lately; mainly due to some growing pains the company is experiencing. As use has grown, doubling the amount of streams on the service in just one year, so has the scrutiny and impatience directed at SoundCloud by the major record labels. The lack of licensing agreements for the content uploaded onto the SoundCloud platform has incited the big three music labels into action.
While a landmark agreement was completed with Warner Music Group last November, Sony Music has pulled its content off of the service until an agreement is reached, while negotiations with Universal Music Group are ongoing but tense enough that litigation has been threatened by the label if an agreement is not reached shortly.
CEO and founder Alexander Ljung says the deal with Warner was important "because it represents a lot of great artists, but it was also important symbolically: We wanted to show that [SoundCloud is] great for any kind of creator, no matter if you're the biggest in the world or just starting off in your garage."
Under pressure, SoundCloud has begun purging and deleting many user accounts containing unlicensed works, potentially alienating the musical community that helped it gain its current standing. Ljung says one solution may be a rumored premium tier is currently in the works.
He adds that both subscription and ad-supported options are necessary for monetization and that their tiers give creators several tools for achieving it.
The issue of how to create licensing agreements that include mashups and DJ mixes, two of the leading styles of streams on SoundCloud, also was addressed: "What we're trying to do is not just —monetize but also create a functioning platform for more user-generated content, like mashups and remixes" explains Ljung. It's a huge part of music culture today, and we've taken on the challenge. I don't think anybody can solve everything, but we're aiming to solve the majority of it."