In a digital word, without live event income, streaming has become artists' main (and for some sole) source of income – but there's still a large mystery surrounding how it actually works, and why artists make what they do. SoundCloud is here with a solution, and with the independent artist front of mind.
Starting April 1st, SoundCloud is launching its "fan-powered royalties," where independent artists get paid directly from their listeners who stream them the most. Pretty straightforward, right? Well, most streaming services royalties are not so favorable to smaller indie artists. With other platforms, money from your dedicated listeners enters a giant pool that then gets distributed to artists based on their total share of streams. This model tends to mostly benefit the industry's biggest stars, leaving your favorite rising Sheesh artist in the dust.
With fan-powered royalties, the listeners that show up in your SoundCloud insights dashboard, are the fans who are contributing the most to your royalties. You may think this is cool, but it's actually a game changer – not only can you directly see who your actual fans are (unlike with Spotify and Apple Music), you can then figure out ways to engage with these fans directly, and create deeper, more genuine connections with your listeners, ultimately creating super fans. Other DSPs tend to gate-keep this data, only showing you how many people are listening to any on one of your songs at a given time, or how many people Shazam your song, and from which city – which is still great information, but you don't know the exact person who is behind this information.
Granted, SoundCloud ranks 7th in most popular music streaming services in the United States according to Statista, with Spotify and Apple Music taking a majority of the market. It will be interesting to see if other platforms adopt this model in the future and how streaming continues to evolve.