SoundCloud announces SoundCloud Go, a new subscription service that has nothing to do with fitness

SoundCloud announces SoundCloud Go, a new subscription service that has nothing to do with fitness

Some people have equated the advent of SoundCloud Go with the next participant in the Royal Rumble running down the ramp and sliding with enthusiasm under the ring’s bottom rope. But reading the various headlines, I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it take a severe departure from its initial mission for SoundCloud to directly beat Spotify over the head with a steel chair?” Wouldn’t it take SoundCloud abandoning its founding concept of being a tool for sharing music in order for it to directly compete with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music? An examination of SoundCloud Go’s features quickly suggests that we’re not there yet, and for better or worse, SoundCloud is attempting streaming conformism without entirely sacrificing its thesis or architecture.

The basics of SoundCloud Go are this: for $9.99/month, users can listen offline, listen ad-free, and get access to millions of songs in addition to the ones that are already freely available via the site (and which will remain so indefinitely). SoundCloud CEO Alexander Ljung had been working with major and independent labels (including Merlin reps) since at least 2014 on a way to “monetize” some of the music that gets uploaded, and the solution seems to have been to allow artists and labels to independently privatize tracks, incidentally adding to the amount of content available overall. Go subscribers can listen to exclusive tracks that non-subscribers can only preview, and they’ll also have access to full albums that might otherwise face copyright elimination if they were uploaded by you or me.

But is it fleshed out enough? Early feedback suggests that content in terms of full albums pales in comparison to the more straightforward streaming services, and that listening to full albums is an arduous task in and of itself. These complaints are predictable when you realize that SoundCloud was built on the idea of uploading individual tracks and since the site still appears to look the same as always.

Here’s SoundCloud’s response to our inquiries:

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