‘No one matches our authenticity with millennials’ boasts SoundCloud as it makes its pitch to brands

SoundCloud, which today (3 May) launched its SoundCloud Go subscription service and advertising platform in the UK market, says it isn’t concerned with established rivals such as Apple Music and Spotify as it will offer brands a “unique connection” with millennials.

The £9.99 SoundCloud Go subscription service will allow users to opt out of ads and will offer an expanded catalogue of music (with 125 million tracks) as well as an offline listening experience as the brand attempts to rival the premium services at the likes of Spotify.

SoundCloud launched its ad platform in the US last year with three tiers:

  • Partner, a free option for beginners sharing their first tracks that gives access to basic stats about their uploads;
  • Pro Partner, a paid subscription which offers more upload time and advanced tools and stats;
  • Premier, an invitation-only level that gives creators the opportunity to make money from their tracks through advertising.

And starting from today (3 May), the regular SoundCloud UK service – which, with 175 million users, claims to be the second biggest streaming service in the world behind YouTube – will now include audio ads, promoted tracks, creator partnerships and a deal with Global Radio, which will see it sell ads across SoundCloud. Two of its first UK advertising partners will be Squarespace and TuneCore.

READ MORE: ‘We want to emulate Nike and be one of the biggest lifestyle brands’ says SoundCloud

Battling Apple Music and Spotify

SoundCloud started primarily as a platform for new artists to share their music. And Alison Moore, its chief revenue officer, said its 12 million active creators give it a point of difference over its streaming rivals.

She told Marketing Week: “A SoundCloud Go user can turn up at a party and play an emerging artist no one has ever heard of next to The Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin. No other platform is mixing what people love with the brand new.”

Moore is particularly confident in SoundCloud’s ability to link up brands with new artists and its creator community citing the recent Ultra Music Festival, where Dutch DJ Sam Feldt premiered an exclusive new track while holding a Heineken – a collaboration orchestrated by SoundCloud.

She also revealed that its 175 million users are “more or less” a 50/50 split of male and female, and primarily millennials.

Moore explained: “We’ve worked with Jaguar, Microsoft, Mountain Dew by linking them with popular emerging artists. As brands try to differentiate and get outside the schema of digital advertising and ad blocking, there is an opportunity to create something bespoke with what we have on the emerging artists side and that is huge differentiator for us.

“The big challenge for marketers is how to connect with millennials and creatives, and we can do that more authentically than anybody.”

Offering ‘non-intrusive’ marketing

SoundCloud could evolve to offer video-based advertising and launch talent discovery competitions in partnership with brands, according to Moore. She said SoundCloud Go will be marketed primarily through social and digital marketing, with a social video campaign ready to go. Moore said there is also an opportunity to tie-up with brands to drive new subscribers – something SoundCloud has already done with Vans in the US market.

In offering subscriptions, SoundCloud is putting itself in competition with the paid-for services offered by Spotify, which has 30 million paying subscribers, and Apple Music’s 11 million-plus. But, ultimately, Moore said it is focused on growing its user base and developing into a storytelling platform rather than focusing too much on rivals.

Moore concluded: “If you set your sights on Apple and Spotify you take your eye off the ball.

“We want to champion non-intrusive storytelling as brands don’t want to be part of platforms that bludgeon the consumer to death with advertising. Keeping that balance is tricky but we’ve done it successfully in US and will do it here too. We’re already hitting good numbers and the potential for growth is huge.

“Consumers get that we’re authentic and so does the artist community – this can work to our advantage.”

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