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SoundCloud vs Spotify: Which Is Better For Artists?

SoundCloud and Spotify are two of the biggest audio streaming sites on the internet today. SoundCloud may not get as much press but they’ve recently landed crucial licensing deals with some of the biggest record labels out there.

Spotify, on the other hand, is becoming the music streaming app of choice among 72% of the mobile users. They are rolling out changes within the mobile app to make sharing more interactive and interesting.

Both platforms have something unique and rewarding to offer a budding musician like yourself – but which one will help your career the most? We put the two biggest music streaming platforms head-to-head to find out. Read on to see what we’ve uncovered.

Image credit: PopMatters

Round 1: Number of Listeners

According to their website, Spotify boasts 140 million active users and 40 million subscribers as of June 2017. They have the broadest reach, with users everywhere around the world and as diverse as Iceland, Lithuania, Nicaragua, Japan, and the United States.

The NY Times reported that SoundCloud has over 175 million active listeners enjoying their services. What makes their pool of listeners unique is the fact that it’s mainly comprised of fellow music makers and passionate fans from all over the world.

While there is only a relatively small difference when it comes to numbers, we have to give this round to SoundCloud.

Since its inception in 2008, SoundCloud has attracted a huge wave of independent music makers and fans, making it the most useful streaming site for those wanting to build their career and network with the most important people in the business.

Round 2: Discoverability

Daniel Elk, the enigmatic founder of Spotify, envisioned a more relaxed music streaming experience for their users through the algorithm which they call the lean back mechanism.

Image credit: Spotify App

Through this unique algorithm, users are given a unique playlist of music recommendations based on over 50 parameters – but there’s no telling what these parameters are.

This lack of transparency makes it hard to determine what you can do to better your ranking on Spotify.

SoundCloud, on the other hand, bases a track’s ranking on social signals and activity. The more people play, repost, and comment your tracks, the higher you rank. This makes you more discoverable regardless of offline popularity.

Because of that, we have to give this round to SoundCloud again. The way they rank tracks proves to be favorable to independent artists who may not have a prominent offline presence.

Bonus Tip: Boost Your Career

Buying high-quality SoundCloud Plays from a reputable provider can help you gain the initial traction you need to attract organic listeners.

When used in combination with a polished track and a solid promotional strategy, buying SoundCloud views can help you efficiently strengthen your social proof and increase your discoverability even more.

Round 3: Earning Opportunities

Recently, music streaming platforms like Spotify and SoundCloud have received backlash from artists and advocates who are protesting the awfully low royalty fees.

The truth is, you can’t make a sizeable income on streaming platforms with just a few thousand plays or listens. On average, an artist can earn only 15 – 20 percent of the overall streaming revenue at most.

Perrin Lamb, an independent singer-songwriter, woke up one day and found his single, Everyone’s Got Something, on Spotify’s revered Coffee House playlist which helped him amass over 10 million plays. Lamb didn’t even use Spotify himself.

For such a staggering amount of listens, Lamb received $40,000, which means he earned around $.004 per stream – which isn’t a lot overall. Mike Doughty, singer-songwriter and former head of the band Soul Coughing, agrees. “Thinking that $40,000 is sufficient compensation for 10 million streams is just absolutely tragic,” he said.

Image credit: Perrin Lamb

The good news is, some streaming platforms give musicians an ability to earn through different means. Spotify allows you to integrate tools such as Songkick and Merchbar into your profile to help you sell concert tickets and merchandise.

Unfortunately, you can’t find that integration on SoundCloud. The best you can get from this platform is access to sophisticated data that can help you develop a more targeted marketing strategy for your tracks, and the ability to tell people to buy your album in the comments.

For that, we’re giving this round to Spotify. Instead of solely relying on royalties to survive your passion, you can grow your audience and come up with other ways to generate income.

Round 4: Publishing vs. Streaming

Image credit: The Bamboo Telegraph

SoundCloud is a music publishing platform whose goal is to help up-and-coming artists release their tracks and introduce their music to massive numbers of highly dedicated fans and fellow artists.

Contrarily, Spotify is a music streaming platform and it’s designed to give fans access to an unlimited catalog of music.

While both make music sharing and uploading extremely easy, it’s clear that they serve very different purposes.

It’s obvious that SoundCloud is more grounded in helping musicians establish their career and because of that, we have to give this round to them.

Round 5: Artist Dashboard

Both platforms boast intuitive dashboards that give artists access to in-depth data and analytics to help them better promote their music.

Spotify’s Fan Insights tool has recently exited the beta stage and promises to give artists access to some pretty mean analytics, profile management tools, and more.

Image credit: Spotify Artists  

It’s also designed to help artists like yourself identify how fans use Spotify in order to discover new tracks. These newly launched features are sure to help musicians engage with their audience more effectively – and did we mention it has a pretty stellar interface that provides a satisfying user experience?

On the other hand, SoundCloud has long been providing artists access to in-depth data and analytics to help them come up with a more targeted promotional strategy.

Image credit: SoundCloud Blog

That means you can easily get your hands on the same type of data you get from Spotify on SoundCloud, plus an instant messaging tool that allows you to connect with fans and collaborators on a more personal level.

Image credit: SoundCloud Help Center

This round is a tie. We couldn’t really pick a winner as both dashboards prove to be extremely useful for any kind of artist. It all really boils down to your personal preference, whichever you find is the easiest to use wins this round.

Round 6: Shareability

SoundCloud allows you to automatically or manually share your tracks on various social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.

Image credit: SoundCloud Help Center

You also have the option to integrate the visual player to your blog or website for maximum exposure – and it doesn’t get any easier than that.

SoundCloud may be making it extremely easy to share tracks but Spotify Codes is dead set on changing the game towards a more immersive experience.

Image credit: Spotify News

With this nifty new feature, users can share tracks by scanning a code that’s appended to the bottom of the album artwork. Artists can share their unique code on social media and even print it on flyers and other offline marketing tools such as flyers, posters, and even billboards!

Spotify Codes will definitely open doors to more creative and engaging ways of sharing music for artists everywhere. You can also share Spotify tracks in many of the same ways that you can share SoundCloud tracks, so they are about even there.

However, you’ll need to download the Spotify app before you can listen to anything through it, other than embedded songs, which can be a hassle if you don’t already have it installed. Anyone can simply go to the SoundCloud website and listen to a song instantly, without being signed in. This makes SoundCloud tracks a bit easier to share in this respect.

When it comes to music sharing, it’s another tie. They both have sharing features, and although SoundCloud’s might be a bit easier to use, Spotify is coming out with some intriguing new features. Get to know how they work, and they can both help you share your music far and wide.

The Verdict: Depends on What Your Goals Are

Spotify promises to introduce your music to more mobile users, but you might have to claw your way to the top in order to get attention because you’ll be competing against some of the biggest and brightest names in the industry.

If your goal is to be part of a more collaborative community of dedicated music makers and fans, SoundCloud is the place for you. An up-and-coming artist has better chances of being discovered on SoundCloud compared to Spotify.

You can better your chances of getting the attention you want by purchasing a few thousand SoundCloud Plays from a tried-and-tested provider. Bought plays can help you strengthen your social proof while letting you focus on creating a more targeted promotional strategy and better tracks. When people see how many Plays your music is getting, they’ll have to come check it out for themselves.

Armed with the insights we’ve provided you with today, you can start dabbling on both platforms and see which one is best for your goals and needs as an artist.

Date: July 11, 2017 / Categories: Getting Discovered, Tips, / Author: Mariko



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