How SoundCloud Operates: SoundCloud Business Model

iTechnolabs-How SoundCloud Operates SoundCloud Business Model

SoundCloud is a popular music and audio streaming platform that was founded in 2007 by Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss. Initially launched as a collaborative platform for musicians to share and discuss their work, it has since evolved into a major hub for audio content. With over 175 million monthly listeners, SoundCloud has become one of the leading platforms for upcoming musicians and artists to share their work with a global audience. Artists can upload their tracks, engage with fans, and gain valuable exposure, often bypassing traditional industry gatekeepers.

The platform’s interface is user-friendly, allowing artists to easily upload their work and listeners to discover new music through various features such as curated playlists, genre tags, and personalized recommendations. The comment section on tracks also fosters direct interaction between creators and their audience, creating a dynamic community.

However, despite its success, SoundCloud has faced numerous challenges throughout its journey. From financial struggles, such as the significant layoffs in 2017 and the need for emergency funding, to copyright infringement issues that have led to legal battles and changes in policy, the company has been through some rough patches. The platform has also had to compete with giants like Spotify and Apple Music, which offer extensive music libraries and exclusive content. Additionally, the evolving digital landscape and shifting consumer preferences continually demand that SoundCloud innovate to retain its user base.

Yet, SoundCloud continues to operate and grow its user base by adapting to the changing landscape of digital music. It has introduced features like SoundCloud Premier, which allows artists to monetize their tracks and continues to foster a community where new talent can thrive. The company has also partnered with various music festivals and events to promote emerging artists and provide real-world platforms for exposure.

Despite the hurdles, SoundCloud remains a vital space for innovation and discovery in the music industry. It serves as a launchpad for many artists who have gone on to achieve mainstream success, proving that the platform is an invaluable resource for both creators and listeners. The democratization of music distribution that SoundCloud offers ensures that diverse voices and styles can find an audience, enriching the global music scene.

SoundCloud Stats and Facts: Funding and Major Milestones

  • In 2007, SoundCloud was founded in Berlin by Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss.
  • By June 2012, the platform reported over 10 million registered users.
  • In January 2014, a partnership with Warner Music Group gave independent artists access to the label’s extensive library for remixing and distribution on SoundCloud.
  • In March 2015, SoundCloud launched its subscription service, SoundCloud Go.
  • As of January 2020, there are over 175 million tracks available on the platform.
  • The most streamed song on SoundCloud is “The Box” by Roddy Ricch with over 362 million streams (as of April 2021).
  • As of February 2021, SoundCloud has raised over $400 million in funding from various investors.
  • In October 2020, SoundCloud announced a partnership with Twitch to allow creators to livestream their performances and connect with fans directly on the platform.
  • As of April 2021, SoundCloud has over 25 million registered users worldwide.
  • The Initial Boom – 

In its early days, SoundCloud gained popularity among independent and emerging artists for its ease of use and ability to share music with a global audience. Musicians found it to be a valuable platform where they could upload their tracks without the need for a traditional record label, reaching listeners worldwide almost instantly. This accessibility led to collaborations between musicians from different countries and genres, breaking down barriers in the music industry. It also fostered a sense of community and innovation, as artists could easily discover and be inspired by each other’s work, further pushing the boundaries of musical creativity.

  • The Inevitable Downfall – 

However, as SoundCloud grew in popularity, it faced challenges from major record labels and copyright issues. The platform struggled to generate revenue and faced backlash from some artists who felt their work was being shared without proper compensation. In 2017, the company laid off 40% of its staff due to financial difficulties. This led to a decline in user activity and loss of trust within the music industry.

  • The Destruction: 

Just When You Think It Can’t Get Any Worse, It Can. In August 2017, SoundCloud announced that it only had enough funds to sustain operations for the next few months. This sparked rumors of bankruptcy and a potential shutdown of the platform. Many artists and listeners feared losing their music library and connections on the platform. However, in December 2017, SoundCloud received a much-needed lifeline in the form of $169.5 million in funding from The Raine Group and Temasek Holdings.

Also Read: Developing Music Streaming Apps like Soundcloud

  • The Final Rise:

Just When You Think It Can’t Get Any Better, It Can. With the new funding, SoundCloud was able to not only continue its operations but also introduce a paid subscription service for listeners, offering them an enhanced experience with additional features. The platform also took significant steps towards addressing long-standing copyright issues by striking deals with major record labels and implementing advanced content ID technology. This allowed artists to monetize their tracks, ensuring they received proper recognition and compensation for their work. These measures have strengthened the relationship between SoundCloud and the music community, fostering a more sustainable ecosystem for creators and listeners alike.

How Does SoundCloud Work: SoundCloud Business Model Canvas

As a platform that offers both free and paid services, SoundCloud’s business model can be best described using the Business Model Canvas. This strategic tool is used to describe, design, challenge, invent, and pivot business models, offering a comprehensive framework to analyze various aspects of a business. The Business Model Canvas provides a visual representation of key components such as customer segments, value propositions, channels, customer relationships, revenue streams, key resources, key activities, key partnerships, and cost structures.

By using this tool, SoundCloud can map out each element of its business strategy, ensuring that every aspect is aligned with its core objectives. For example, in the customer segments component, SoundCloud can identify and categorize its diverse user base, which includes casual listeners, independent artists, and content creators. The value propositions section allows SoundCloud to clearly articulate the unique benefits and features it offers, such as easy music discovery, social sharing capabilities, and monetization opportunities for artists.

Revenue streams focus on the different ways SoundCloud generates income, including subscription fees from premium services, advertising, and partnerships. Cost structures detail the major expenses involved in running the platform, from server maintenance to marketing campaigns.

By continuously evaluating and refining each of these components, SoundCloud can better meet the evolving needs of its users and stay competitive in the dynamic music streaming industry. This iterative process not only helps SoundCloud adapt to market changes but also fosters innovation, ensuring that it remains a leading player in the digital music space.

SoundCloud Revenue Model: How Does SoundCloud Make Money?

SoundCloud has a multi-faceted revenue model, which allows the company to generate income from various sources. In this section, we will explore how SoundCloud makes money and what strategies it employs to increase its revenue streams.

1. Advertising

One of the main sources of revenue for SoundCloud is advertising. SoundCloud offers advertisers the opportunity to reach a large and diverse audience through targeted audio and display ads. Advertisers can choose from various ad formats, including audio spots, banner ads, and sponsored playlists.

To improve the effectiveness of its advertising platform, SoundCloud uses data-driven targeting methods to ensure that ads are shown to relevant users. This not only benefits advertisers but also enhances the user experience by presenting them with ads that are more likely to be of interest.

2. SoundCloud Go and Go+ Subscriptions

Another key source of revenue for SoundCloud is its premium subscription services, SoundCloud Go and Go+. These subscriptions offer users an ad-free experience, access to exclusive content, offline listening, and other perks, including the ability to save tracks and playlists for offline use and higher-quality audio streaming. By subscribing, users can also enjoy uninterrupted listening without the annoyance of ads and gain early access to new and exclusive tracks from their favorite artists.

SoundCloud offers a free trial for both subscription plans, allowing users to experience the benefits before committing. After the trial period, users must pay a monthly or annual fee to continue enjoying the premium features. This allows SoundCloud to generate steady recurring revenue from subscribers while also providing additional value to its most engaged users. By continually enhancing the user experience and offering exclusive content, SoundCloud aims to keep its subscribers satisfied and invested in the platform.

3. SoundCloud Pro and Pro Unlimited

Aside from its advertising and subscription services, SoundCloud also offers a set of tools for creators to monetize their content. This includes SoundCloud Pro and Pro Unlimited subscriptions, which provide advanced features such as more upload time, advanced stats and insights, the ability to pin tracks and playlists to the top of profiles, and distribution options for music on other platforms.

These subscriptions are targeted towards musicians, podcasters, DJs, and other creatives looking to build their brand and reach a larger audience. By providing these tools at an affordable price, SoundCloud empowers creators to take control of their own careers while also generating revenue for the platform. Additionally, by offering distribution services through SoundCloud Premier or Repost by SoundCloud (for Pro Unlimited subscribers), the platform expands its reach and attracts more artists to join and share their content.

4. Track Mastering and Promotion

In addition to subscription services, SoundCloud also offers track mastering and promotion services for an additional fee. This allows creators to improve the sound quality of their tracks and reach a larger audience through targeted promotion campaigns on the platform.

SoundCloud’s mastering service uses state-of-the-art audio processing technology to enhance the overall sound quality of tracks, making them more competitive in the market. This can be especially beneficial for independent artists who may not have access to expensive recording equipment or professional mastering engineers.

Furthermore, SoundCloud’s promotion services help artists boost their exposure by targeting relevant users and playlists on the platform. By leveraging its vast user base and data-driven algorithms, SoundCloud helps artists gain more plays, likes, reposts, and followers – ultimately leading to increased engagement and potential monetization opportunities.

5. Events and Collaborations

SoundCloud isn’t just a platform for sharing and promoting music – it’s also a community. Through its events and collaboration features, SoundCloud allows creators to connect and collaborate on projects.

Creators can use the “Groups” feature to find like-minded artists, join discussions, and share their tracks with others in their genre or niche. They can also use the “Collaborate” feature to invite other users to work on tracks together, regardless of their location.

Additionally, SoundCloud hosts various live events and festivals around the world where artists can perform and network with industry professionals and fellow musicians. These events provide valuable opportunities for exposure, growth, and potential partnerships.

Read More: Top 10 Music Streaming Apps to Explore

3 Lessons to Learn From SoundCloud’s Story

Now that we’ve explored SoundCloud’s history and features, let’s dive into some key takeaways from its success story.

1. SoundCloud Always Remained True to its Artist-Centered Approach

One of the main reasons behind SoundCloud’s success is its artist-centered approach. From its inception, SoundCloud has always prioritized the needs and interests of musicians above all else. This commitment is evident in several key features and initiatives that the platform has introduced over the years.

Whether it’s through its user-friendly interface that makes it easy for artists to upload and manage their tracks, or the seamless sharing and embedding options that facilitate wider distribution and exposure, SoundCloud continuously strives to provide a platform that empowers artists. Additionally, SoundCloud’s promotion services, such as Spotlight and Pro Unlimited plans, offer artists the tools they need to reach new audiences and maximize their visibility.

Moreover, SoundCloud has created a community-focused environment where artists can interact with their fans and other musicians, fostering a sense of belonging and collaboration. By consistently updating and improving its services, SoundCloud remains dedicated to helping artists reach their full potential and thrive in the ever-changing music industry.

2. It Had a Great Idea that Provided Value to the Users

At its core, SoundCloud’s concept was simple and yet groundbreaking – a platform that allows musicians to upload and share their sound recordings with the world. This idea provided immense value to both artists and listeners alike.

For artists, it offered an easy way to showcase their music and reach new audiences without relying on traditional gatekeepers like record labels. For listeners, it provided a diverse range of music from up-and-coming independent artists as well as established names in the industry.

Furthermore, SoundCloud’s user-friendly interface and intuitive features made it appealing to both creators and consumers of music, setting it apart from other streaming platforms at the time.

3. SoundCloud Always Provided Attention to the Detail

From its early days as a small start-up to its current status as a major player in the music industry, SoundCloud has always paid attention to the details. This can be seen in its constant updates and improvements to the platform, ensuring a smooth and user-friendly experience for both artists and listeners.

Additionally, SoundCloud’s commitment to fostering a supportive and collaborative community is evident in features like comments and collaborations, which allow artists to connect and their fans. This attention to detail has helped create a unique and dynamic ecosystem on SoundCloud that sets it apart from other streaming services.

How much does it cost to build a SoundCloud-like Platform?

Building a SoundCloud-like platform requires a substantial investment, which can vary significantly based on various factors such as the development team’s location, platform complexity, and the features desired. For example, a development team based in North America might charge higher rates compared to teams in other regions. The complexity of the platform, including whether it will support high-quality audio streaming, user-uploaded content, or advanced analytics, also plays a crucial role in determining the cost. Furthermore, the desired features such as social sharing, user profiles, playlists, and monetization options can add to the development time and expense. On average, the cost to build such a platform can range from $50,000 to $250,000. Continued maintenance and updates will also be necessary, contributing to ongoing expenses.

Breaking it down, here are some potential expenses:

  • Basic Features Development: User profiles, music upload, and streaming capabilities might cost between $20,000 and $50,000. These features are fundamental to the platform, allowing users to create accounts, upload their music, and stream tracks seamlessly.
  • Advanced Features Development: Creating features such as social sharing, playlist creation, and algorithmic recommendations could add an additional $30,000 to $80,000. Social sharing enables users to share their favorite tracks with friends, while playlist creation allows them to organize their music. Algorithmic recommendations enhance user experience by suggesting tracks based on listening habits.
  • Design and User Interface: A visually appealing and user-friendly interface might cost between $15,000 and $40,000. Good design is crucial for user engagement, ensuring that the platform is not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate.
  • Backend and Database Development: Essential for handling large amounts of data securely and efficiently, this can range from $20,000 to $60,000. The backend infrastructure supports the entire platform, managing user data, music files, and ensuring secure transactions and interactions.
  • Testing and Quality Assurance: Ensuring the platform is bug-free and operates smoothly could require $10,000 to $20,000. Rigorous testing processes help identify and fix issues before the platform goes live, ensuring a smooth user experience and maintaining high standards of quality.
  • Ongoing Maintenance and Updates: After the initial launch, maintaining the platform could cost $5,000 to $20,000 annually. This includes regular updates to add new features, fix any emerging bugs, and ensure the platform stays compatible with new technologies and user expectations.

Suggested: How Much Does it Cost to Create An App

How can iTechnolabs help you build an audio streaming platform like SoundCloud?

iTechnolabs offers a comprehensive range of services to help you build an audio streaming platform like SoundCloud. Our team of experienced mobile app developers, designers, and quality assurance specialists can work with you to bring your vision to life. We provide end-to-end solutions, including UI/UX design, backend development, front-end integration, and thorough testing to ensure a seamless user experience. Additionally, we offer post-launch support and maintenance to keep your platform running smoothly and up-to-date with the latest technologies and trends. Whether you’re looking to create a simple music-sharing app or a full-featured streaming service, iTechnolabs has the expertise to help you succeed. Some of the ways in which iTechnolabs can assist you include:

  • Customized Development Solutions: We understand that every business has unique needs and goals. That’s why we offer customized development solutions tailored specifically to your requirements, ensuring that your audio streaming platform stands out from competitors.
  • Expertise in Frontend and Backend Development: Our team has extensive experience in developing both frontend and backend infrastructures for digital platforms. This means we can ensure a seamless user experience while also implementing robust security measures for data handling.
  • UX/UI Design: Our designers are skilled at creating intuitive and visually appealing user interfaces that enhance the overall user experience of your platform. We also ensure that the design is responsive, making it accessible on different devices.
  • Quality Assurance Testing: At iTechnolabs, we follow a rigorous testing process to identify and fix any bugs before launching the platform. This helps maintain high standards of quality and ensures a smooth user experience for your audience.
  • Ongoing Support and Maintenance: We provide ongoing support and maintenance services to keep your audio streaming platform running smoothly. This includes regular updates, bug fixes, and compatibility checks to stay up-to-date with evolving technologies and user expectations.

Are you planning to build a Platform like Soundcloud?

iTechnolabs-Are you planning to build a Platform like Soundcloud

When it comes to building a platform like SoundCloud, partnering with iTechnolabs brings numerous benefits that can significantly enhance your project’s success. Firstly, iTechnolabs leverages its deep expertise in customized development solutions to create a unique and engaging platform that stands out in the competitive audio streaming market. This bespoke approach ensures that your platform not only meets but exceeds user expectations, fostering customer loyalty and satisfaction.

Moreover, iTechnolabs provides ongoing support and maintenance, ensuring that the platform remains up-to-date with the latest technological advancements and industry trends. Their team of skilled professionals collaborates closely with clients to understand their specific needs and goals, delivering a product that aligns perfectly with the vision of the project. Additionally, their robust security measures protect user data and ensure a safe and reliable user experience. By choosing iTechnolabs, you are investing in a partnership that prioritizes innovation, quality, and customer success.

  • Customized Development Solutions: iTechnolabs specializes in creating tailored platforms that address the specific needs and preferences of your audience, ensuring a unique and engaging user experience.
  • Expertise in Audio Streaming: With extensive experience in the audio streaming industry, iTechnolabs has the knowledge and skills to develop a platform that competes with major players like SoundCloud.
  • Ongoing Support and Maintenance: Their commitment to continuous support and maintenance ensures your platform stays up-to-date with technological advancements, performs optimally, and evolves with industry trends.
  • Robust Security Measures: iTechnolabs implements strong security protocols to protect user data and ensure a safe, reliable experience for your users.
  • Collaborative Approach: Their team works closely with you to understand your vision and goals, delivering a product that perfectly aligns with your project objectives and exceeds expectations.
  • Scalability and Flexibility: The platforms developed by iTechnolabs are designed to be scalable and flexible, accommodating future growth and changing user requirements.
  • Customer-Centric Focus: By prioritizing user satisfaction and customer loyalty, iTechnolabs ensures that your platform resonates with your audience, fostering long-term engagement and success.

Important: Introducing Google MusicLM: Revolutionizing Music Creation


At iTechnolabs, their commitment to excellence and customer satisfaction sets them apart in the industry. With their expertise in customized development solutions, audio streaming, ongoing support and maintenance, security measures, collaborative approach, scalability and flexibility, and customer-centric focus, they are dedicated to helping your platform succeed. By partnering with iTechnolabs for your development needs, you can rest assured that your platform will be innovative, high-quality, and geared towards achieving success for both you and your audience.

Looking for Free Software Consultation?
Fill out our form and a software expert will contact you within 24hrs
Need Help With Development?
Need Help with Software Development?
Need Help With Development?

We trust that you find this information valuable!

Schedule a call with our skilled professionals in software or app development