SoundCloud is free for anyone who simply wants to listen to and share the music that they find on SoundCloud.
For those who want to upload their music to SoundCloud and promote it, there is also a free option. However, it limits the amount of music that can be uploaded, gives only basic stats for each song (i.e. total play count, total "likes", total reposts, total number of comments, and total downloads), and does not allow for advanced controls and tools.
The majority of SoundCloud's money was made through investment in the company as a start-up business. It has also made money by partnering with music distribution companies who wish to make music that they hold the copyright to available on SoundCloud (for the purpose of collecting both song royalties and advertising revenue). It is suspected that SoundCloud may make even more money by having itself purchased by a major Internet company (such as Twitter), or perhaps even offering an advertisement-free listening subscription service, sometime in the future.
Aside from that, SoundCloud makes money by offering two paid subscription plans for SoundCloud members, specifically those looking to upload and promote their music.
A SoundCloud Pro account costs $6 per month (billed monthly) or $55 per year (billed annually).
Additional features (to those included in the free account) include:
Increase the amount of music that you can upload from 3 hours to 6 hours.
Track which individual users have played one of your songs the most, or track how often your songs have been played by users from particular countries.
Control whether comments or public statistics on your songs are visible or not.
Use the "Spotlight" feature to permanently place certain songs and playlists at the top of your profile.
Change the file for a song without having to delete it and upload a completely new song, thereby losing any stats for it.
Allow each of your songs to be downloaded up to 1000 times by other SoundCloud users.
A SoundCloud Pro Unlimited account costs $15 per month (billed monthly) or $135 per year (billed annually).
SoundCloud Pro Unlimited users get all the benefits of SoundCloud Pro users, plus the following upgrades:
Completely eliminate the limit on the amount of music that you can upload.
Track how often your songs have been played by users from particular cities. Also, track how often one of your songs has been played on a certain SoundCloud page, on a certain version of the SoundCloud app, or on a particular website in which it has been embedded.
Allow each of your songs to be downloaded an unlimited number of times by other SoundCloud users.
That's a bit of information on SoundCloud's pricing structure and how it makes money!
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