Following in the footsteps of Spotify, SoundCloud has introduced tools in an open beta which enables creators to distribute their music to other (and rival) streaming platforms.

The distribution tools come as a new upgrade to SoundCloud’s “Premier” tier, which enables monetization across SoundCloud’s own platform. The list of platforms SoundCloud enables you to distribute to includes rivals Apple Music, Spotify, Tencent, YouTube Music, Amazon Music and more.

The move comes after distributors found their largest streaming client – Spotify – on the verge of challenging their relevance. Spotify was the first platform to leap into direct distribution to their own rivals via the “Spotify for Artists” program.

Premier is limited to artists who are 18+, create original music, have zero copyright strikes and 1,000+ monetizable track plays. “Eligible creators will be notified via email and in-product notifications over the next few weeks,” SoundCloud says. They introduced the program with a video, as is their wont:

What’s it all mean? Distribution is edging down from a low margin to close-to-zero margin business for one.

Michael Donaldson from 8D Industries notes in his blog that streamers are going to have a sort of “home field advantage” on their own platforms, and that the platforms haven’t taken over the expanded functions of established distributors (yet). Interestingly, this suggests we’re seeing a transition from a seemingly level platform in terms of artists angling for exposure on platforms to a weighted scale:

This landscape is going to get a whole lot more interesting if the DSPs get into a sort of distribution battle. What features and analytics are coming to differentiate each of the services? I am sure these will exploit the advantages of being aligned with the native platform of the distributor — perks on SoundCloud, perks on Spotify. Dedicated distributors like Symphonic will still have a role as they offer expanded label services (playlist pitching, sync, publicity, etc.) that the streamers don’t provide (yet). An advantage for dedicated distributors is they will pitch and promote across all platforms instead of mainly focusing on one. I doubt SoundCloud’s distribution will pull much weight when it comes to Spotify placement and vice versa.



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