The soundcloud move: risky bet or hidden agenda?

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It’s the technology – stupid! That’s how you could adapt Bill Clinton’s campaign slogan. It’s something that the audio platform soundcloud.com might have got terribly wrong.

It had almost slipped my attention that soundcloud made a huge change in the way they let you embed your songs on Facebook. Since July (2015), soundcloud posts (audios) do not play directly from facebook anymore. Instead, users get forwarded to soundcloud.com – obviously in a new tab or a new window. Soundcloud argues that this would offer a better experience and put the musician’s soundcloud profile more in the front. Nedless to say that most soundcould artists have a fairly different view on this. And they strongly demand to reverse this latest modification.

The trend is going the opposite way

Soundcloud officials appear to be ducking away from the noise, pointing out that this change is only «for now» and musicians should first wait to gather some experience on how the new facebook integration works for them. It doesn’t work for me. Neither as a listener, nor as an artist. Songs that I post on facebook get about half of the plays that they did before.
Let me put this straight: Soundcloud wants to direct traffic away from facebook (the world’s no. 2 website, according to alexa.com) and pull it over to soundcloud (no. 166 according to alexa.com). It stands in complete opposite to what news sites and video platforms are doing. The reason is simple: Users don’t want to leave the timeline of the social network they’re surfing. Why else would so many websites and services be keen on having their content seemlessly integrated in social network platforms. It must be playable or viewable directly from the timeline. Of course it would be nice if users switched over to your site. But that’s not the way the trend is going.

So this all makes soundcloud’s move very hard to understand. And what’s even more confusing: soundcloud integration on twitter still works in the same old (and good) way. Users can play songs from soundcloud directly without having to leave twitter.
It just doesn’t add up. Unless…
Unless soundcloud was pushed to make this move. Pushed by no other than facebook. It’s hard to imagine. But it remains a possibility. Facebook made a huge move in video embedding, making it able for videos to be played automatically on a mobile timeline. A bit annoying for youtube, since their videos are not playing automatically. But the will survive.

Does Facebook plan its own music service?

With soundcloud, it’s different. If Facebook is planning a music service of its own, soundcloud will face dark times. Because it’s difficult for audio on the web. Not when it comes to music streaming services. But when it comes to posting and sharing. People don’t strive for audio. They strive for text and video. That’s what they share and post. Soundcloud was the only place where users would gather only to post, share audio. Make playlists and maybe even comment on songs and mixes. There are other platforms (like reverbnation or bandcamp), but they are either not as big or they have a different approach. So maybe, Soundcloud just wants to prepare for what is coming ahead. But it would be wise to let listeners and musicans know if this is the case.
In the meantime, other platforms are taking profit from the soundcloud move. Hearthis.at has moved up by 40’000 positions in the Alexa ranking. And what’s more, many musicians are cancelling their paying subscriptions at soundcloud. I’m just one of them.

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