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SoundCloud vs. Instagram: Who is the Center of Music Culture

This may sound odd but Spotify is not the most important competitor of SoundCloud. Rather, it is Instagram. While SoundCloud was born as a music streaming platform and Instagram was born as a social media application, there is so much more to that. Both of these platforms are children of the social web or web 2.0. For this reason, both of them became an imperative platform for communities. 

If SoundCloud wants to remain thriving in the ever-competitive online world, then it has to figure out a way on how it can make up for its ground lost over Instagram.

SoundCloud in the MySpace Era

If you never experienced living in the MySpace era, then you would never now mindblown everyone was when SoundCloud was first made available for the public. Before Facebook was created, MySpace was the most dominant social media platform around the world. This social network was connected by music. The transition from MySpace to Facebook, combined with music streaming establishing its own name, a lot of people wanted to have the MySpace era 

SoundCloud vs. Instagram: The Battle Between Who is the Center of Music Culture

back and wondered if there is something that would bring the MySpace experience back.

SoundCloud played an important role during this time. It was launched on the internet quietly as a platform for artist collaboration. It has a feature where listeners can comment anywhere in a track’s waveform– a feature that no one ever saw before. 

Moreover, MySpace allowed its users to use codes when customizing their profiles. Some users used this feature to change their MySpace default player into a SoundCloud player.

Due to the visually distinctive music players of SoundCloud, it created a visible proliferation through various music communities. 

How SoundCloud Caused a Change in Music

While MySpace is still used by a lot of musicians to let the people know of there presence, there are also a lot of individuals who started to form a community on SoundCloud. Back then, it was not normal for musicians to create an online presence. Instead, people use MP3 players to listen to their music. 

But through the features offered by SoundCloud, it became a global platform for music. The platform combined different features that back then cannot be found in an individual platform alone. Some of these features include commenting, forming groups, as well as messaging.

SoundCloud vs. Instagram: The Battle Between Who is the Center of Music Culture

As the years go by, SoundCloud became more and more widely available. The platform also made it possible for people outside the music industry to become involved with music creation. Aspiring musicians can now upload music on SoundCloud and build an audience with people who appreciate their songs. 

Community Was an Important Part of SoundCloud

Despite its popularity, the platform struggled for a long time with its business model, licensing fees that caused it to get sued for, and the people who upload music that was not theirs on the platform.  Suddenly, SoundCloud maneuvered itself and turned into a streaming service domain. Due to the operation’s expense, the company was driven to sell itself as a catalog service similar to Spotify. And because SoundCloud was not created to be a catalog service, it became inferior to Spotify. This caused a major layoff to the platform as well as a change of management.

SoundCloud became debt-ridden but was saved by major investment. But while SoundCloud is here to stay, its CEO is not. The former CEO-ship was taken over Kerry Trainor, the former CEO of the video platform Vimeo. The change in management-led SoundCloud to pursue a creator-centric tactic that brought us its today’s landscape.

Instagram: SoundCloud’s Most Important Competitor

You may be thinking about how Instagram became SoundCloud’s most important competitor when it is not even a music platform. Well, the answer is because Instagram became the center of SoundCloud’s community.

It is a fact that SoundCloud became successful back then because it was able to create a successful community. However, the shift in management and service means that some community members, those music creators who are not part of today’s music industry, have to look for somewhere else to thrive in. Needless to say, SoundCloud lost its community– the center of its success. 

SoundCloud vs. Instagram: The Battle Between Who is the Center of Music Culture

I doubt that SoundCloud can still send the same traffic that it was able to send to aspiring musicians back then to get more SoundCloud plays. On the other hand, Instagram is adopting more creator-centric features as it begins competing with labels today. In addition, Instagram has a well-developed community, so it is easier for artists to promote their music on the platform. For this reason, it is not quite questionable why aspiring musicians who were once thriving on SoundCloud turned into Instagram to promote their music.

Can SoundCloud Win Back its Community?

I expect that this question would be asked by a lot of people. However, it is not the right question to ask. This is primarily about the place of SoundCloud in the cultural landscape. Becoming popular in the cultural landscape takes a long time. Apart from that, it is also unpredictable. Think of SoundCloud’s early beginnings as a platform for artist collaboration and music sharing. Have its creators ever thought that the platform will be the cornerstone of electronic music culture and global rap? Of course, there was a big possibility that they wanted to be; however, they would not have been able to create a map of the path of what they will eventually achieve.


So, whether or not SoundCloud can regain its community depends on the way it adapts to the expectations of its customers. Some service providers do so by widening their demographics and becoming more appealing to their target audience. This is what Spotify did back in 2017. It became a platform that its target audience wanted while aggressively trying to increase its shares in the market. 

It was as if people were witnessing another MySpace moment. SoundCloud ended MySpace back then and now it was ended by Spotify. On top of that, the community SoundCloud built for so long started to migrate to another community-based platform Instagram.

Date: June 22, 2020 / Categories: SoundCloud Plays, / Author: Joy P


Joy P

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