Like any other creative suburban misfits, Gustav Ahr did not get many people who lived in his town. He only spent much of his teenage years alone in his bedroom while listening to punk and rap records. He also indulged himself in more obscure acts that he could find in the farthest corners of the internet.
Ahr, who died at the age of 21, is more popularly known as Lil Peep. He was born in Pennsylvania and moved to Long Island, New York, where he grew up. Both of his parents were Harvard graduates. However, they separated when Ahr was a teenager.
The rapper and music producer achieved good grades when he was studying. However, he rarely turned up to his lessons in Lido Beach called Long Beach High School. Eventually, he decided to drop out and opted to study online instead. The course that he has chosen required him to submit one essay per week. But even with just one weekly requirement, his mother would often have to do it for him.
At the young age of 17, Ahr pursued his music career by moving to Los Angeles. Under a new name, “Lil Peep,” he launched his first mixtape called Lil Peep Part One in 2015. He followed this mixtape by releasing an EP titled Feelz and another mixtape called Live Forever during the same year.
Lil Peep released more EPs in 2016. In the same year, he released Come Over When You’re Sober Pt. 1 — his debut album. Shortly after that, Peep died in August.
Moreover, music came easily to this young artist. In fact, in an interview with a magazine, The Fader, he said it only takes him five minutes to create a whole song.
What opened doors for Peep’s career is his self-styled and memorable aesthetic. He had begun getting tattoos as young as 14 years old. In addition, his distinctive looks allowed him to gain Instagram fame. He was even invited to Milan and Paris fashion weeks and was shot by the popular Mario Testino. In an interview with The Times in August, he said, “They all the same — that I’m edgy.”
Peep’s notorious face tattoos showed words like “Crybaby,” the title of one of his songs, just above his eyes, and “Get the cake, die young” along his hairline. His music is a mixture of elements of trap, grunge, emo, and southern rock. It is also often categorized as the “SoundCloud Rap” genre.
While his songs are placed in the rap category, Peep’s debut album aligns him better to rock. This is because he used melodies in the songs in the album. Generally speaking, his music signifies the alt-pop and punk bands that were popular in the 2000s. That includes Panic! At the Disco as well as Fall Out Boy.
The open audio platform SoundCloud is home to a huge number of rappers. In addition, how a SoundCloud rapper is defined changes as the ecosystem evolves. Calling someone a SoundCloud rapper can be considered a dismissive or insulting term used to describe a musician creating mundane or mediocre music for a small and insignificant audience. However, there is also an existing musical genre called SoundCloud rap.
An unpolished lo-fi sound characterizes the aforementioned genre’s ambient beats. It is also dominated by bass that’s heavily distorted. Additionally, it is also dominated by the artists’ emotional lyrics that talk about prescription painkillers and suicide and their punk rock personas. Such a style of music does not only circulate on SoundCloud but has also entered the world of mainstream record label-vouched and chart-topping music.
Like many other artists who make music with the SoundCloud rap movement, Lil Peep performed, showing unhappiness. The songs that he wrote were for depressed teens. They have emotional and frank lyrics that talk about mental health. For instance, his 2016 tack titled OMFG has lyrics saying, “I used to wanna kill myself / Came up, still wanna kill myself / My life is goin’ nowhere / I want everyone to know that I don’t care.”
When asked about the aforementioned song during an interview with Pitchfork, Lil Peep said that he has a chemical imbalance in his brain. He added that he was suffering from depression, and there were days when he woke up, and he wished he had not. Artists now go so far as to fake mental problems so they don't have to buy SoundCloud plays to go viral and make it big in the modern, competitive rap game.
Moreover, Lil Peep also rapped about taking drugs. He even presented it in such a way that was not always pleasureless. Instead, he would usually link it to his depressive tendencies as a way of escapism rather than hedonism.
Some of the most popular drugs referenced in SoundCloud rap include marijuana, Xanax (often used as a treatment for depression, and purple (a drink made out of mixing sprite with codeine-based cough syrup.) Drug-taking is a trendy song topic in SoundCloud rap. In fact, another SoundCloud rapper, Lil Pump, celebrated his million Instagram followers with a cake shaped as Xanax.
A group named Cozy Boys (formerly known as Blackout Boys) had a logo inspired by Xanax bar. In fact, even the clean-cut Drake admitted in a guesting on iLoveMakonnen’s track Tuesday that he has “Xans in an Advil bottle.” He then reassured people that he was not taking them.
Lil Peep was found dead inside his tour bus at the age of 21. His cause of death was ruled as an accidental overdose of generic Xanax and fentanyl. Her mother filed a lawsuit against his manager, saying that instead of getting help for her son, they pushed him onto stages city after city. She also claimed that he was given illegal drugs and unprescribed controlled substances.
According to the latest filings, the music streaming company generated over $100 million in 2017.
SoundCloud is a streaming service that’s based in Berlin, Germany. Founded in 2007, it has launched much music, and rap careers spawned on its own music genre. According to its 2019 financial reports, the streaming company increased its global revenue from 2016 to 2017 by over 80 percent. Yet, the company has been troubled by financial upheaval during that year.
SoundCloud’s 2017 accounts report more than €90.7 million in revenue. According to the records, this was recently filed to the UK Companies House and examined by Music Business Worldwide.
Moreover, the 2017 revenue was a lot higher than the revenue during the previous year, which is €50.3 million. Revenues from subscriptions grew 89 percent. On the other hand, advertising revenues increased by 53 percent.
In addition, the company was able to decrease its annual operating loss by 27 percent. These numbers are an indication that the streaming company was able to turn things around since the summer of 2017. It can be recalled that during that time, SoundCloud closed several offices, as well as laid off 173 employees. The number of employees it let go represents almost half of its workforce. This led to rumors that the company might shutter altogether.
However, the streaming company received $170 million in a funding round later that same year. This fund came from The Raine Group, a company based in the United States, and Temasek, which is based in Singapore. In addition, it had former Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor as its new executive. The company has also faced an aggressive reorganization. This apparently helped SoundCloudestablish a more secured and stable position.
According to the fiscal 2017 filing, the streaming company successfully took significant steps to improve its financial health. The steps include renegotiating particular shareholder contracts, cutting major operating expenses, and retiring outstanding debt. As a result, it was able to achieve positive operating cash flow in 2018.
Furthermore, SoundCloud noted that it was able to surpass its 2018 growth plan and stay focused on two major ideas. The first one is to expand its creator business with a suite of useful tools for artists. On the other hand, the second idea is to offer a unique listening experience for the young and trendsetting global music fans.
The first idea will be increasingly tough. This is because Apple Music, Spotify, and other streaming giants have already solidified their place as market leaders. However, the second idea focuses on music creation. This is something where SoundCloud stays unsurpassed.
SoundCloud has been described as the YouTube of audio. This is because the profusion of its user-generated content varies from all genres and types.
Moreover, the company announced that it raised a total of $75 million in funding from Sirius XM Holdings Inc., a satellite radio giant. Notably, SiriusXM is the owner of the streaming giant Pandora. This streaming service is known to have an ad partnership with SoundCloud.
The company said in a statement that the $75 million funding is allotted for product development and the launching of new services.
Meanwhile, Pitchbook said that in 2017, SoundCloud was last valued at $500 million. SiriusXM described the partnership as a minority investment that is related to the Pandora ad partnership. In this partnership, Pandora resells the inventory of SoundCloud on its programmatic platform. When combined, the two companies serve 100 million unique listeners in the US. This allowed SoundCloud to hit a total forward revenue run-rate of $200 million for the first time during the last quarter of 2019.
SoundCloud’s deal with SiriusXM serves as a positive development for it. It could also represent a reverse in fortune for the streaming company.
The music streaming company was originally founded in Berlin in 2007. It was one of the early movers in music streaming startups. In addition, SoundCloud has already seen some ups and downs ever since its inception.
Reportedly, SoundCloud was once an acquisition target for Twitter and Spotify. However, it never quite converted those talks into deals. This is partly due to the asking price, the overhang of related business models, and licensing issues.
Close to going bankrupt at some point, one of its founders Alex Ljung, stepped down as SoundCloud’s CEO as the company lays off almost half of its employees. In addition, another co-founder Eric Wahlforrs also left the company. The streaming company has been a much quieter business as a result.
But despite the company laying low, it continued to grow. In fact, its deal with SiriusXM is evidence that SoundCloud is not done yet.
According to SoundCloud’s current CEO, Kerry Trainor, the three consecutive years of strong financial performance for SoundCloud indicates the success of its creator-led growth strategy.
Trainor added that the company has an exciting roadmap where it focuses on deepening the creator-listener connection. This connection fuels career growth, creator discovery, and the evolution of music culture within SoundCloud. He also noted that the company had built an excellent relationship with SiriusXM through the successful Pandora ad sales agreement.
SiriusXM’s agreement also provides an added capital flexibility for SoundCloud to accelerate its vision and take advantage of the rising strategic opportunities.
Indeed, it is tempting to wonder whether the agreement could lead to SiriusXM acquiring SoundCloud. It is undeniable that SoundCloud provides a complement to Pandora. In addition, it potentially fills a gap for both international audiences. It will cause more than 200 million tracks from 25 million creators, heard by listeners in 190 countries.
Needless to say, SoundCloud is indeed a significantly large platform. In fact, some of the most popular musicians, including Post Malone and Billie Eilish, debuted their first tracks on SoundCloud.
Date: October 22, 2021 / Categories: SoundCloud Plays, / Author: Joy P
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