Music streaming service SoundCloud has added an important new feature to its recently-introduced "stations" feature. The new feature allows listeners to create a stream of tracks based on the music of any of their favorite artists, creating a Pandora-like radio stream that will ostensibly help SoundCloud to compete with its popular internet radio rivals.
SoundCloud is in the midst of transforming itself into what it hopes will become a profitable and more user-friendly service that music fans will eventually be willing to pay for on a monthly basis in the same way they shell out fees to listen to competitors like Tidal, Apple Music and the premium tiers of Pandora and Spotify. The streamer recently added a new "suggested tracks" feature that uses a special algorithm to provide potential songs a user might enjoy, based upon each specific user's listening history and the track they are currently hearing.
The service also introduced a complimentary "stations" feature that creates an ongoing stream of tracks related to the song they are currently hearing. It works similarly to the suggested tracks, except it operates as an automatic stream of those tracks rather than allowing the user to select specific ones he or she might enjoy from a list.
Now, SoundCloud has expanded its "stations" feature to include a stream of tracks based on any particular artist the listener picks, as opposed to a certain song. That sounds suspiciously similar to Pandora's artist-centric playlist feature, and it demonstrated how SoundCloud is positioning itself as it attempts to compete with its more popular rivals.
SoundCloud has always appealed more to avid, informed music listeners who know what they want and actively choose specific songs and artists to stream individually. It appears that the new services are designed to appeal also to the more passive, casual listener who may not want to act as their own DJ, selecting track after individual track.
The service will initially work better, however, for existing listeners, because the algorithms the company uses are based on a user's listening history. In fact, brand new listeners will only be able to choose from a preexisting list of artist-based stations. As users build up a taste pattern, the system will become more personalized and accurate. This reality may make it more difficult for SoundCloud to attract newer users to its platform, as they can't immediately take advantage of the service in as meaningful a way as seasoned SoundCloud veterans.
One benefit that SoundCloud's "stations" feature does have over competitor Pandora is the ability to skip over tracks as often as one chooses. Listeners can access the new artist stations by clicking on "Start Station" from any SoundCloud artist page.