SoundCloud is an online audio distribution platform based in Berlin, Germany that enables its users to upload, record, promote and share their originally-created sounds. In July 2013, it had 40 million registered users and 200 million listeners.
SoundCloud was originally started in Stockholm, Sweden, but it was established in Berlin in August 2007 by Swedish sound designer Alex Ljung and Swedish artist Eric Wahlforss. It had the intention of allowing musicians to share recordings with each other, but it later transformed into a full publishing tool which also allowed musicians to distribute their music tracks.
A few months after it began operating, SoundCloud began to challenge the dominance of Myspace as a platform for musicians to distribute their music by allowing recording artists to interact more nimbly with their fans. In a 2009 interview with Wired, co-founder Alex Ljung said: "We both came from backgrounds connected to music, and it was just really, really annoying for us to collaborate with people on music—I mean simple collaboration, just sending tracks to other people in a private setting, getting some feedback from them, and having a conversation about that piece of music. In the same way that we’d be using Flickr for our photos, and Vimeo for our videos, we didn't have that kind of platform for our music".
In April 2009, SoundCloud received €2.5 million Series A funding from Doughty Hanson Technology Ventures. By May 2010, SoundCloud announced it had one million subscribers. In January 2011, it was confirmed that SoundCloud had raised a $10 million Series B funding round from Union Square Ventures and Index Ventures. On 15 June 2011, SoundCloud announced they had five million registered users, and investments from Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary's A-Grade Fund. On 23 January 2012, SoundCloud announced on their blog that they had 10 million registered users. A story wheel was created for the occasion, which can be found on the SoundCloud blog. In December 2012, a new SoundCloud layout was released to the general public. Among the many new features was the ability to continue playback of a track whilst navigating around the site, and the ability to read comments without them obscuring the waveform. In May 2014 SoundCloud announced in an email to registered users that the Classic SoundCloud interface would be discontinued imminently.
In March 2014, it was reported SoundCloud was in talks with major music labels regarding licensing due to copyrighted material appearing on the platform. This is in attempt to avoid the situation at Google and YouTube who are forced to handle a large number of takedown notices.
One of the key features of SoundCloud is that it lets artists upload their music with a distinctive URL. By allowing sound files to be embedded anywhere, SoundCloud can be combined with Twitter and Facebook to let members reach their audience better. By simply clicking a share button designated to the site you wish to host the share and approving the post, audiences on the site can see the content through their desired media outlet. This contrasts with MySpace, which hosts music only on the MySpace site.