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SoundCloud: We're a 'social music experience,' not just a '$10 product'

Grete Suarez
Producer

SoundCloud got a $75 million shot in the arm this week, in the form of an investment from satellite radio giant Sirius XM (SIRI) in exchange for a minority stake and two board seats. The investment could help SoundCloud face off against other music streamers like Spotify (SPOT) and Apple Music (AAPL), but SoundCloud’s president Michael Weissman wants to make clear that it’s not a rivalry.

“What we're really focused on is a differentiated experience that allows those emerging musicians to connect with their fans,” said Weissman on Yahoo Finance’s “YFi PM.

He said the platform expands beyond other music services by offering chat, comments on tracks, and ways for creators to upload photography onto their profile.

Just two weeks ago, Tesla’s (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk released a new track (“Don’t Doubt ur Vibe”) on his SoundCloud “Emo G Records” account, after garnering more than 2.7 million plays on his previous trackRIP Harambe” last year. To Weissman’s point of allowing users to leave comments, Musk’s latest track has more than 6,000 comments.

“So in a way [SoundCloud is] actually more of a social music experience versus just a $10 product to listen to a catalog of music,” Weissman said.

SoundCloud x Pandora "Be First to be Heard" event on Tuesday, January 8th, 2019 at Pandora's CES HQ Sky Villa at CES from left to right: Tim Peterson (Digiday), Minjae Ormes (CMO, Visible), Michael Weissman (COO, SoundCloud), artist Lizzo and Chris Phillips (CPO, Pandora)

SoundCloud’s platform has 200 million tracks from 25 million creators, the company says. Founded in Berlin in 2007, SoundCloud originally established itself as a free platform where new and emerging artists shared and promoted their music. It’s also been credited for being the starting point for mega-stars like Post Malone and Billie Eilish.

While other streaming platforms like YouTube were also credited to launch the careers of Justin Bieber, Weissman said SoundCloud shouldn’t be seen as a competitor, but more of a complementary tool.

“We want artists to be able to actually succeed wherever they succeed, so with SoundCloud – if you're using YouTube (GOOGL) to market, if you're using TikTok to market, if using Instagram (FB) to build your career, go do that — that's the best thing for the artist,” he said.

“What we're trying to build is those tools to allow those artists to succeed using SoundCloud as a hub, but using the other services in conjunction with that,” he added.

The Sirius investment comes more than a year after Sirius acquired Pandora in a $3.5 billion all-stock deal (with Pandora already the exclusive advertising and sales rep for SoundCloud in the U.S.). Sirius had bought a smaller stake in Pandora before the full takeover, but Weissman said SoundCloud is staying private.

“We're continuing to plan to stay a private company — we're building the business to be the strongest independent company, hopefully getting profitability in the near future,” he said.

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Grete Suarez is producer at Yahoo Finance for YFi PM and The Ticker. Follow her on Twitter: @GreteSuarez

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