I’m all for Soundcloud making money. I think it’s a fantastic service and a great vehicle for promo, for works in progress and for allowing people to listen to your music.
It’s just a shame that when great services are looking to “monetise”, the answer is always advertising.
Now, it’s worth pointing out that I used to make radio commercials for a living, and I believe there’s such a thing as good advertising. You can entertain, and make a difference for a client (especially gratifying when it’s a small business trying to get a message out to people who would really appreciate what they do).
But when I hear “We’re adding advertising and paying the content creators – and you can pay to have the ads removed”, I always hear “we’ve made our service worse and broken the user experience, and you’ll need to give us money to fix it back the way it was, in order to stop the record labels from suing us”.
All of that is entirely unpleasant. And not just for the listener.
If I was an advertiser, and I was told that my commercials were essentially going to be used as a repellent to drive customers to pay to get rid of my message, I would not be excited about advertising on that platform.
Spotify is a case in point. Spotify wants paid subscribers. In order to do that, they make terrible, annoying and unpleasant ads. Who pays for these ads? Are they insane?
In an ideal world, businesses like Soundcloud and Spotify would choose between either making a service that people genuinely want to pay for (and giving artists and rights holders an equitable share of that revenue), or providing a service that is sustainable through the creation of great advertising that creates positive associations for the client and genuinely entertains, informs or at the very least, doesn’t piss off the target audience.
But the default message seems to be “give us money to make terrible and intrusive ads for your company, and we’ll use them to annoy people into paying us to make you go away.”
Which makes no sense to me at all. Hope that’s not what Soundcloud end up doing – but fear it might be.