SoundCloud has been experiencing a slew of issues related to legal copyright problems with the major music labels, as well as growing complaints from the artistic community regarding removal of uploaded content. Meanwhile, traffic at the music streaming website continues to soar.
SoundCloud experienced a rocky summer due to growing discontent from several sides. Negotiations with music labels not yet inked to deals related to licensing of their copyrighted content remained at a stalemate, while major artists who use the platform as a vehicle for releasing their latest works to fans increasingly expressed their anger and frustration at the service for removing content, which the artists contend is perfectly legal.
The latest artist to join the chorus of unhappy uploaders is Hardwell. The Dutch DJ, whose real name is Robbert van de Corput, is one of the biggest EDM players in the music biz and was voted the number one DJ in the world in DJ magazine's 2013 and 2014 rankings. His SoundCloud page is extremely popular, and like many EDM artists, Hardwell uses it as a direct link to release music to his fans. An apparently erroneous SoundCloud removal prompted the DJ to tweet recently directly to SoundCloud: "Please guys, get your s*** together. I keep getting copyright problems while it's released on my own label."
SoundCloud's increasingly overzealous removal policy is the result of intense pressure on the company to abide by copyright and licensing restrictions until legal agreements are in place with the two out of three major record labels not yet inked to deals with the streamer. While WMG (Warner Music Group) previously came to terms with the company in a deal that gave it cash and a 5 percent stake, the other two labels, Sony Music Group and UMG (Universal Music Group) are still on the outs. Sony has aggressively pursued the removal of its content, while Universal has been engaging in ongoing negotiations in spite of simultaneously threatening legal action. An imminent deal between UMG and SoundCloud was rumored recently, but when a lawsuit initiated by PRS, the UK Performing Rights Society, was filed, the pending litigation apparently spooked Universal.
Meanwhile, SoundCloud traffic is at an all-time peak. With streaming figures doubling year to year for the period ending in June, the streamer has experienced an additional summer growth spurt, which shows its usage and popularity greater than ever. Ironically, the growth of the service has contributed to the onslaught of issues, as labels have become increasingly frustrated with the lack of proper remuneration as use of the service surges.