Is SoundCloud or Spotify better for indie musicians? - Hypebot (2023)

Here’s a closer look at two of the most used streaming platforms and which one may be a better fit for independent artists as they hone their craft and build a fanbase.

by Scott McCormick of Disc Makers Blog

To make a splash in the music business, independent artists not only need to produce and distribute physical media (CDs and vinyl), but they also have to stream their music on the biggest platforms in the world.

Disc Makerscan help you with the physical media part, but how do you handle digital streaming and downloads? And which platforms do you need to be on? Everyone wants to know how to make money with music. Today we’ll compare two of the biggest platforms — SoundCloud vs. Spotify — and help you decide which one you need to be on, or if you can be on both.

Is SoundCloud or Spotify better for indie musicians? - Hypebot (1)

How to choose a digital music distributor

In order to stream your music to the biggest platforms, you need to sign up with adigital music distributor. There are dozens of such companies vying for your business, and their offers and services are constantly changing, which can make it challenging to choose the best one.

As of May 2023, there are three main distributors: CD Baby, Distrokid, and Tunecore. Each of these companies will deliver your music to the biggest music streaming platform, Spotify, but they will also distribute your music to a variety of other giants, like Apple Music and Amazon Music, as well as social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok.

But you may have noticed that one huge platform is missing from this list: SoundCloud. SoundCloud is not just a music streaming platform, it is also a distributor, thanks to a fairly new program calledSoundCloud for Artists. SoundCloud for Artists will not only distribute your music through SoundCloud, but it will also deliver your music to all the streaming and social media platforms as the others, including Spotify. But they do so at a cost that is greater than the other distributors.

(Video) Spotify and Apple Should Pay Artists with a User Centric Royalty System

So, the question for new artists these days is this: You know you need to be on Spotify (and Apple Music, etc.), but do youalsoneed to be on SoundCloud? And if so, what’s the best way to distribute your music in 2023 to ensure the widest distribution and the best deal?

SoundCloud features

SoundCloud is one of the largest music platforms in the world, offering over 200 million songs and featuring 175 million active monthly users (compared to Spotify, which has 271 million active monthly users).

From the very beginning, SoundCloud was very much focused on indie musicians, making it easy for them to upload and share their new music. And because of this, the streaming platform offered up a much better way for independent musicians to get noticed. You can also upload exclusive content for your followers that can only be accessed by a private URL.

But SoundCloud isn’t just a platform, it is also a distributor. In 2019, SoundCloud purchased Repost Network, a music rights management and distribution company. Soon afterward, SoundCloud launched its own service called Repost by SoundCloud, which was later rebranded as SoundCloud for Artists.

Some features include:

  • Unlimited global release distribution to more than 60 social networks and streaming platforms including Spotify, Apple Music, and TikTok.
  • Automatic release distribution to newly added streaming platforms.
  • Permanent release distribution with regular and uninterrupted royalty payments.
  • YouTube monetization.
  • Split payments.

You can get all of this with SoundCloud’s Next Plus plan, which is $2.50/month and allows you to upload three hours of music. If you need more than that (and get a few other bells and whistles), you can upgrade to Next Pro, which is $9.99/month for the first year and then $12/month for every year after that.

How do these prices compare to other distributors?

It’s difficult to calculate because every company charges its customers in different ways. For example, Distrokid charges you $22.99/year for unlimited uploads and you get to keep 100 percent of your royalties (except for YouTube, where Distrokid takes 20 percent), but it gets you with tons of little fees,which you can find on its website.

(Video) Are There Too Many Music Streaming Services? | Mashable Explains

SoundCloud’s royalty rate

While Distrokid and Tunecore both pay you 100 percent of your royalties earned from such sites as Spotify and Apple Music, SoundCloud pays you only 80 percent. This makes them a less-than-ideal distributor for all platforms outside of SoundCloud itself. (This article from Demfire Creationgoes into great depth showing you how much you can earn from each of the big four distributors, including SoundCloud for Artists.)

Fan-Powered royalties

When people listen to your music on SoundCloud itself, SoundCloud for Artists pays you royalties calculated through a new program called fan-powered royalties. These are based on what portion of a fan’s time they spend listening to each artist. According to SoundCloud:

The total amount of money generated by a fan for the artists they listen to is based on a few factors:
1. How much the fan listens to that artist relative to all of their listening time in a given month
2. How many advertisements the fan has consumed
3. Whether the fan has a paying subscription to SoundCloud Go+ [or is a free user]

Does your music need to be on SoundCloud?

If you are producing hip-hop or other electronic music, SoundCloud is still the number one music platform for those genres, so you definitely want your music to be there. If you are making music outside of those genres, SoundCloud is less important for you.

However…

Generally speaking, you want your music to be everywhere, because you never know where your listeners are going to be, and because each platform rises and falls in popularity over time.

But is it worth using SoundCloud for Artists as your distributor even though their royalty rate isn’t great? Or is there a better way to get your music everywhere?

Before we answer that, let’s compare some of the features you can get from having your music on Spotify.

(Video) Is Apple Music better than Spotify for new artists? - (Direct artist deals 2018)

Spotify for Artists features

As mentioned earlier, Spotify is the biggest streaming platform (outside of YouTube), featuring 271 million active monthly users as of this publication. Not only does it have the biggest audience, Spotify is the number one destination for listeners of every genre of music outside of hip-hop and electronic music.

Unlike SoundCloud, Spotify is not a distributor. If you want to get your music on Spotify, you need to sign up with a distributor. They work withdozens of distributors, including SoundCloud.

Once your music is on Spotify, you can sign up with Spotify for Artists, which offers you valuable tools to help promote your music. Here are a few examples:

  • Canvas:add short looping videos to each of your tracks
  • Clips:another form of short video, similar toTikTok videos. (Currently in beta testing)
  • Discovery mode:allows you to prioritize certain songs to make search engine discovery more likely
  • Marquee:a full-screen, sponsored recommendation of your new release to Spotify Free and Premium listeners who have shown interest in your music
  • Merch:Spotify offers a Shopify integration that allows you to sell merch (costs $5/month)
  • Playlisting:every artist hopes to get on a Spotify Playlist, which offers the best way for your music to get discovered by new fans
  • Promo cards:helps you to create custom graphics to highlight new releases

As you can see, Spotify offers you a lot of tools to build a buzz for your music. So, you definitely want your music on Spotify. But you also want to be on SoundCloud…

What’s the best way to be on both SoundCloud and Spotify?

Your best bet is to sign up with two distributors. Join SoundCloud for Artists solely to get your music on SoundCloud. But then choose one of the big three distributors (Tunecore, CD Baby, or Distrokid) to get your music on Spotify and all the other platforms. This way you can maximize your profits, widen your reach, and give yourself the best chance to boost your musical career.

Which distributor should you choose?

CD Baby, Tunecore, and Distrokid are all great companies, each one offering different features, fees, and royalty rates. You can’t really go wrong with any of them.

If you are unsure which distributor to use, we’ve created a free PDF to help you decide. You candownload it here.

(Video) Ep. 337 Upload Your Music Directly to Spotify, What Does this Mean to the Artists

Scott McCormick is the author theAudible bestselling Rivals! seriesand the hit fantasy novelThe Dragon Squisher.Scott can be reached atstorybookediting@gmail.com.

Alana Bonilla on 06/02/2023 in D.I.Y. | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tags: DIY, DIY musicians, music, music industry, musician, musicians

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FAQs

Is SoundCloud or Spotify better for indie musicians? - Hypebot? ›

Not only does it have the biggest audience, Spotify is the number one destination for listeners of every genre of music outside of hip-hop and electronic music. Unlike SoundCloud, Spotify is not a distributor. If you want to get your music on Spotify, you need to sign up with a distributor.

Is SoundCloud good for indie artists? ›

SoundCloud is quickly becoming a go to tool for independent artists, finally providing a useful social network for artist's to share their work and gain new fans.

Is it better to release music on SoundCloud or Spotify? ›

Spotify gets first place for music quality, both in audio quality and the level of artists on the platform. There are great artists on both platforms, but the music on Spotify has a more consistent level of quality for most listeners, and the technical audio quality also exceeds that of Soundcloud.

Why is Spotify more popular than SoundCloud? ›

Spotify gets first place for music quality, both in audio quality and the level of artists on the platform. There are great artists on both platforms, but the music on Spotify has a more consistent level of quality for most listeners, and the technical audio quality also exceeds that of Soundcloud.

Does anyone still use SoundCloud? ›

SoundCloud users

SoundCloud has 130 million registered users.

What are the downsides of SoundCloud? ›

Con: Soundcloud users are limited by upload time

Users get 3 hours of upload allowance on the Basic free plan, 6 hours on Pro $6 plan, and unlimited for $12. For podcasters the upload allowance on the Basic and Pro plans gets used up fairly quickly and the only way to upload more is to delete existing audio files.

Does Spotify pay indie artists? ›

Spotify pays artists between $0.003 - $0.005 per stream on average. That works out as an approx revenue split of 70/30 - so that's 70% to the artist/rights holders and 30% to Spotify.

Who pays artists more Spotify or SoundCloud? ›

SoundCloud's payout rates are similar to those of Spotify, at roughly $0.0025 to $0.004 per stream. The exact rate is a rotating figure that is largely based on the country and continent that the user listens to the music from. On average, SoundCloud artists earn roughly $. 003275 per stream.

How often should I release on SoundCloud? ›

How much music should you put out on SoundCloud? To effectively grow a fanbase on SoundCloud, you should release new music at least once per week. If you're constantly stockpiling tracks, then this is more than manageable.

Should I just post my music on SoundCloud? ›

Your first release on SoundCloud will not be your best, but by releasing music on SoundCloud you're able to assess where you need to improve and gain valuable on-the-job experience. Besides technical skills, you can also learn about the process of developing a brand and persona that's appealing.

Why is Spotify more quiet than SoundCloud? ›

According to Beat Spot, in order to foster a safe and consistent listening landscape that is devoid of potentially harmful effects to the ear canal, Spotify automatically renders its music to an average volume of -14db integrated LUFS (loudness units relative to full scale).

Who uses Spotify the most? ›

User demographics: Most Spotify users worldwide are aged 18 to 34, accounting for approximately 62% of Spotify's active user base. This is also true in the United States, where people aged 18 to 34 account for 55% of all Spotify users. There are more male users in the US, accounting for 56%, while 44% are female users.

What audio quality is SoundCloud? ›

What is the quality of SoundCloud HQ streaming? Our Hiqh Quality streaming format is encoded in 256kbps AAC. (equivalent to an mp3 encoded in 320kbps).

Is SoundCloud going away? ›

The music you love on SoundCloud isn't going away, the music you shared or uploaded isn't going away, because SoundCloud is not going away. Not in 50 days, not in 80 days or anytime in the foreseeable future. Your music is safe.

Can you still go viral on SoundCloud? ›

It may take a lot of time and hard work for your songs to go viral. Continue to hone your craft, practice your music, and build your fanbase. The more popular you are as an artist, the more likely you'll eventually go viral.

Why is SoundCloud good for musicians? ›

SoundCloud makes it easy to share your music and get discovered. Not by just anyone, but an audience and community of 150 million plus tastemakers…the day one early adopters that come to SoundCloud to discover and launch the careers of artists like Billie Eilish, Post Malone, Lil Nas X and beyond.

Is there anything better than SoundCloud? ›

BandCamp

Like other alternatives to SoundCloud, BandCamp is a platform for people to upload and share music, either on BandCamp itself or on various social media websites (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Tumblr).

What's so special about SoundCloud? ›

We empower independent artists with the tools, services and resources they need to help them build and grow their careers. With over 250 million tracks from 30 million artists from 193 countries on SoundCloud, we are the largest audio discovery platform in the world.

Does SoundCloud distort audio? ›

Unfortunately, it's entirely possible for your track to distort if you upload it to Soundcloud - the reason being, small changes to the amplitude of your track occur during the encoding process that Soundcloud uses. As a result, your track may clip, and if it does, it may cause clipping distortion.

Do small artists get paid on Spotify? ›

Contrary to what you might have heard, Spotify does not pay artist royalties according to a per-play or per-stream rate; the royalty payments that artists receive might vary according to differences in how their music is streamed or the agreements they have with labels or distributors.

How much is 10k streams on Spotify? ›

How much money is 10000 streams on Spotify? Based on a $0.004 payout per stream, 10000 streams would generate a revenue of $40.

How much money is 100 streams on SoundCloud? ›

Content creators in SoundCloud monetized countries can expect payouts ranging from $0.0025 to $0.004 per stream and for every 1000 audio plays, indie artists can receive between $2.50–$4.

How many listeners do you need to make money on SoundCloud? ›

To qualify, you must be a SoundCloud Pro or Pro Unlimited subscriber. Your tracks have to be 100% original and have at least 500 plays in the past month from countries where SoundCloud subscriptions and advertising are available.

How many streams on Spotify to make $100? ›

How Many Spotify Streams Do You Need To Earn Minimum Wage?
Desired Income/MonthStreams Needed Per Month
$10025,000
$1,000250,000
$1,257 (Minimum Wage)314,250
$2,000500,000
3 more rows
Jul 22, 2020

How long does it take to monetize SoundCloud? ›

How long does it take to monetize a track on SoundCloud? It normally takes up to 5 business days for a track to become monetized on SoundCloud. However, if you want to make sure you do not miss out on any monetized streams, you can submit tracks for monetization while they are still private or unreleased!

How do I increase my listeners on SoundCloud? ›

The best way to gain meaningful followers is to be one yourself. Use the Search and Charts to find and follow like minded creators, listen carefully and give honest feedback often. Think quality over quantity, tailor your suggestions, constructive criticism, or praise according to each track and profile.

What is the best day to drop on SoundCloud? ›

If you have enough followers so that your tracks make it reliably into "the upload" then Wednesday or Thursday that way you'll get peak exposure during the weekend, otherwise Sunday. The day your music is finished, mastered, ready to be heard.

Does SoundCloud plays count towards Billboard? ›

Billboard and MRC Data has finally added plays on SoundCloud and several other music streaming services to select chart calculations. Global streams from Audiomack and SoundCloud will be added to the data that informs the Billboard Global 200 and Billboard Global eexcluding U.S. charts.

Should I copyright my music before putting it on SoundCloud? ›

Copyright is automatically granted to you at the time you create your work. You generally don't have to file anything anywhere, or publish anything online to own the copyright of your music.

Does SoundCloud delete songs if you stop paying? ›

Cancel your monthly subscription over at soundcloud.com/you/subscriptions on a computer. Once you've canceled, you will have to wait for your subscription to expire. Don't worry though, nothing is deleted from your account when your subscription expires.

What is the mastering level for Spotify? ›

Mastering tips

Target the loudness level of your master at -14dB integrated LUFS and keep it below -1dB TP (True Peak) max. This is best for lossy formats (Ogg/Vorbis and AAC) and makes sure no extra distortion's introduced in the transcoding process.

What LUFS is best for mastering? ›

The best mastering level for streaming is an integrated -14 LUFS, as it best fits the loudness normalization settings of the majority of streaming services. Although other measurements like the true peak value and other metrics need to be considered, -14 LUFS is the best mastering level when considering loudness.

How loud should you master your music? ›

The average loudness of master records for the music industry in 2022 is around -8 RMS, about -10 LUFS, with the output ceiling around -0,3 dB. However, the loudness targets can vary for different genres.

Who is the #1 artist on Spotify? ›

English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran is the most-followed artist on Spotify. American singer-songwriter Ariana Grande is the most-followed female artist on Spotify.

Who has 1 billion listens on Spotify? ›

The Beatles hit 1 billion Spotify streams: Most streamed songs ever.

What is the oldest song on Spotify? ›

The oldest music recording available on Spotify is a French compilation album titled Anthologie De La Chanson Française, which has recordings dating between 1900 and 1920. Singers included on the compilation include Henri Fursy, Lucien Boyer, Ainé Mevisto, Gabriel Montoya, and more.

Why do people prefer Spotify? ›

Spotify keeps listeners listening with its personalized Discover Weekly and Release Radar playlists. Listeners who want to put a little elbow grease into finding new music can wade through any number of artist and song-specific radio stations.

What is the best sound quality for music? ›

A lossless audio file format is the best format for sound quality. These include FLAC, WAV, or AIFF. These types of files are considered “hi-res” because they are better or equal to CD-quality.

How do you EQ on SoundCloud? ›

Choose Player Screen > Equalizer. Do one of the following: - Choose a preset option from the pop-up menu. - Drag the frequency sliders up or down to increase or decrease the volume of a frequency (in decibels).

Why is SoundCloud removing songs? ›

Tracks are taken down when they are identified as containing copyright-infringing material. There are two types of copyright infringement takedowns on SoundCloud--automated and manual.

Why are so many songs unavailable on SoundCloud? ›

If a SoundCloud member does not have the licensing rights to release a track everywhere, they may only make it available within the countries where they have the rights to do so. As a result, the track might not be available in certain regions.

Will Spotify buy SoundCloud? ›

Spotify is abandoning a merger with SoundCloud after months of negotiations between the two companies, TechCrunch reports. The breakdown in the deal reportedly came down to a reluctance on Spotify's part to commit to a purchase in a potential IPO year.

Is it possible to get famous on SoundCloud? ›

Producing great music is essential if you are to achieve success as an artist. If you give them high-quality tracks, the SoundCloud listeners will flock to your music, play it repeatedly, and share it among their communities. Ultimately, this will give you musical fame.

How many followers do you need on SoundCloud? ›

Please note: there is a requirement of 1000+ profile followers for the profile monetization service, but any music distribution client can deliver their catalog to SoundCloud Go, which monetizes as well.

Is NSFW allowed on SoundCloud? ›

We do not allow any content that is predominantly sexual in nature or that could be perceived as an aid to sexual gratification. This includes, but is not limited to, images containing nudity and recordings or detailed descriptions of sexual acts, or links to pornographic sites.

What is the downside of SoundCloud? ›

Con: Soundcloud users are limited by upload time

Users get 3 hours of upload allowance on the Basic free plan, 6 hours on Pro $6 plan, and unlimited for $12. For podcasters the upload allowance on the Basic and Pro plans gets used up fairly quickly and the only way to upload more is to delete existing audio files.

Why do people use SoundCloud instead of Spotify? ›

This is significantly more than Spotify, but a large portion of this can be low-quality content. There are some great songs on Spotify, but it is much easier to upload songs on Soundcloud, hence the reason it has so many more songs than Spotify. Also, it's a great way to get to know new artists.

What are the negatives of SoundCloud? ›

It can be expensive for new artists: SoundCloud subscriptions are comparatively affordable. That said, it can be a costly choice for artists until they can generate and maintain the minimum required organic SoundCloud plays to monetize their content.

How many independent artists are on SoundCloud? ›

The nearly 100,000 independent artists monetizing directly on SoundCloud through SoundCloud Premier, Repost by SoundCloud or Repost Select will benefit from fan-powered royalties beginning on April 1, 2021.

How important is SoundCloud for artists? ›

SoundCloud is the only streaming platform that allows you to easily identify your top fans based on their listening and engagement habits that support your music, and message them directly via desktop or mobile.

Is it easy to go viral on SoundCloud? ›

It may take a lot of time and hard work for your songs to go viral. Continue to hone your craft, practice your music, and build your fanbase. The more popular you are as an artist, the more likely you'll eventually go viral.

What is the #1 song on SoundCloud? ›

Jimin's "약속 (Promise)" is now the most streamed song in Soundcloud history (275.1 million).

Who is SoundCloud target audience? ›

SoundCloud made $273 million in revenue in 2021, up from $218 million in 2020. The Soundcloud brand was valued at $800 million in 2023, up from $700 million in 2021. More than 27% of SoundCloud users are from the US. 63.5% of the platform audience is 18-34 years old.

What is the #1 music genre category in the world? ›

Pop is the most popular music genre in the world.

Who has more listeners Spotify or SoundCloud? ›

SoundCloud has 76 million registered users and 175 million monthly listeners. At the end of 2021, Spotify had 406 million monthly active users, including 180 million premium subscribers and 226 million ad-supported i.e. free listeners. Spotify obviously has the most listeners and users.

Who is the #1 independent artist? ›

The most successful independent artist is Chance the Rapper.

He does it without the help of a major label, which means that all of his music is produced independently.

How much does the average SoundCloud artist make? ›

Content creators in SoundCloud monetized countries can expect payouts ranging from $0.0025 to $0.004 per stream and for every 1000 audio plays, indie artists can receive between $2.50–$4.

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