Is SoundCloud Free?

Is SoundCloud free?

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.

How does SoundCloud make money?

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.

SoundCloud Pro

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.

SoundCloud Pro Unlimited

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!


SoundCloud Review

In our last tutorial, we went over what SoundCloud is, how it works, and what you can do with it.  But will SoundCloud put you on cloud nine, or is it just full of hot air?  We'll break down its strong and weak points below.

Pros

  • Free to use as a listener — If you're just using SoundCloud to listen to music, then it's more-or-less free to use.  The only exception is that certain artists may make their songs available for purchase on a third-party website or service, such as iTunes.  On the other hand, some artists may make their songs available for download for free!

  • There's something for everyone — SoundCloud not only has music from many different genres, but it also has other unique audio tracks, including audiobooks, educational lectures, and stand-up comedy shows.

  • Music, the social way — Why just listen to music when you can make it social?  Leave a comment to say how you feel about a certain song (or part of a song), or share it with your friends on SoundCloud or on your other social networks.  You can also join "groups" and share your favourite music with them, and they will do the same for you.

  • Put your own spin on SoundCloud — Put together songs that you find on SoundCloud in custom playlists based around a certain artist, genre, mood, or whatever else you want.  Or spice up your SoundCloud profile with a unique user name, user picture, background photo.  You can also add info about where you live or what you like to do, and even add links to your websites, where people can find out more about you!

Cons

  • Mostly for the indie scene — The majority of songs and other audio tracks on SoundCloud are uploaded by amateur musicians and other non-professionals, such as those who create audio journals or other independent informational recordings (commonly known as "podcasts").  There are some well-known professional recording artists on SoundCloud — such as Ed Sheeran, Calvin Harris, and Mariah Carey — but if you are looking for hit music like you would hear on the radio, then you should perhaps try another service besides SoundCloud.

  • Search options are lacking — SoundCloud's search options are simple, but not very thorough.  One very glaring weakness is their inability to find songs that are available for download, either right on SoundCloud or on a third-party website.

  • We interrupt this program… — Because SoundCloud is relatively free to use, you will sometimes hear advertisements between songs, as a way for SoundCloud to support itself (and the artists who use it) financially.

The bottom line: 8/10

Overall, SoundCloud is a pretty cool website, as far as music-related services go.  It's pretty much free to use as a listener (if you don't mind hearing advertisements between songs), and you have quite a few options as to what you can do with the music that you find there.  You can comment on it, put it on a custom playlist, share it to your other social media accounts (or to your other friends on SoundCloud), post it to a themed group, or sometimes even download a free copy of certain songs!

There are two major weak points for SoundCloud, though.  The first is that it doesn't have too many partnerships with major record labels (at least not yet), so most of its audio is by amateur artists and sound recorders, instead of popular commercial acts.  The other main flaw with SoundCloud is that its search capabilities are somewhat subpar; a particular weakness is that it's impossible to search for songs on SoundCloud that can be downloaded, either from SoundCloud or a third-party website.

If you're looking for music that's outside the mainstream and don't mind doing a bit of exploring to find it, then SoundCloud might be a website worth looking into for you.  If that's the case, head on over to our next tutorial: How to Sign Up for SoundCloud tutorial.


What is SoundCloud and how does it work?

SoundCloud is a social network that is used primarily for the distribution of audio tracks.  If you think about a social network like Pinterest or Instagram as sharing the world in pictures and/or videos, then think of SoundCloud as sharing the world in sounds.

Sound designer Alexander Ljung and recording artist Eric Wahlforss came up with the idea for SoundCloud in Sweden in 2007, originally as a way for musicians to share their music and ideas with each other.  But it wasn't until they incorporated in Germany later that year that SoundCloud became what it is today.  So what is SoundCloud today?  It's one of the world's largest online distribution platforms for original music and audio recordings, with over 175 million unique monthly visitors and over 12 hours of total audio being uploaded by contributing artists every minute.

How does SoundCloud work?

There are two general types of people who use SoundCloud: those who want to promote their music and audio tracks, and those who want to listen to said audio tracks.

Contributors to SoundCloud

Contributors can post and organize their music on SoundCloud for other people to hear, and track the demographics of people who listen to it.  They can also provide links for listeners to buy and/or download their music, and publish updates on their other social media accounts whenever they post new music on SoundCloud.  Some even allow listeners to use their music in certain ways.

SoundCloud listeners

People who listen to audio tracks on SoundCloud can comment on what they listen to, or share it over their other social media accounts.  They can also spread the music that they like over SoundCloud by reposting it to their own profile, marking tracks as "favourites", or posting tracks to a group.  They can even create their own custom playlists, and sometimes even download songs that others have posted on SoundCloud.

How to use SoundCloud

Browse for music and audio tracks to listen to

What's your taste in music?  Classical?  Pop?  Rock?  Hip-hop?  Or perhaps you aren't into music at all, and would rather listen to an audiobook, an informational program, or a stand-up comedy routine.  Browse SoundCloud for popular audio, or explore a genre that suits your likes or mood.

Browsing SoundCloud by track category

Listen to audio tracks, plus so much more

Sure, listening to music is fun, but why stop there?  Speak your mind by adding a comment to an audio track, mark it as a "favourite", add it to a playlist, or share it over your other social network accounts.  You may even be able to download a complimentary copy of the track, so you can play it anywhere, anytime!

Various SoundCloud track options

Hear music your way by creating custom playlists

Unleash your inner D.J. by creating your own playlists of songs.  Want a set of music that's all by your favourite artist?  Or maybe you'd like a mix of songs from a certain genre.  Or maybe there's some other pattern that you want a specific collection of audio tracks to follow.  Share your playlist with other SoundCloud users, or keep it to yourself.  It's totally up to you!

Form for creating a SoundCloud playlist

Use simple search functions to find something specific

If you're looking for something particular on SoundCloud, you can search for it.  Whether it's an audio track, user, playlist, or group, SoundCloud's search functions will help you track it down (no pun intended).  You may even be able to use some filtering options to help, such as the length of a track or how long ago someone joined SoundCloud.

SoundCloud search categories and filters

Join groups of audio enthusiasts for exclusive tracks

If you're into a particular artist or genre of music, there may be a group for that on SoundCloud.  Join a group and share tracks with all of your group members, and see what neat tunes they have to offer as well!

How to join, leave, or contribute to a SoundCloud group

Spice up your profile and show of your persona

SoundCloud is partially a social network, so be social!  Pick a display picture, backdrop, and user name for your profile, and then include a little bit more about yourself.  Where are you from?  What kinds of music do you like?  What are your other hobbies?  Do you have a website that other people can visit? You can reveal as much — or as little — as you want.

Editing your SoundCloud profile

 

Well, that's a brief explanation of what SoundCloud is all about.  Next, we'll take a look at the pros and cons of the service, so stay tuned!