SoundCloud widens money-making program to more paying artists

If you pay for pro uploads to SoundCloud, now you can earn money off your tracks.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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Joan E. Solsman
2 min read
Chance the Rapper performs onstage in front of a SoundCloud logo

Chance the Rapper rose to prominence via mixtapes posted to SoundCloud.

Getty Images

SoundCloud is widening its program that lets artists make money off the tracks they upload there, unlocking its SoundCloud Premier program to almost all creators who pay for an $8-a-month Pro account or a $16-a-month Pro Unlimited account. 

Sometimes referred to as the YouTube for audio, SoundCloud said the expansion would unlock revenue for hundreds of thousands of creators. Previously the program was open by invitation only to thousands of artists. Widening Premier has been a goal of the company's since at least early this year. 

SoundCloud has been a principal force for independent artists as streaming music became the de facto way most people listen to tunes. While music services like Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora have been instrumental in popularizing streaming with listeners, the easy uploads of SoundCloud, along with YouTube, have made them powerful tools for performers to get their music out, sometimes reaching heights of popularity once limited to stars backed by a major label.

Chance the Rapper, for example, made a name for himself without a label via mixtapes posted to SoundCloud and won the Grammy for best new artist last year.

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"Expanding SoundCloud Premier's direct monetization offering from thousands, to hundreds of thousands of eligible creators is an exciting step in our commitment to empowering as many creators as possible to grow their careers first on SoundCloud," Kerry Trainor, the company's CEO, said in a release.

SoundCloud says it has content from more than 20 million creators.

The new move comes less than three weeks after Spotify, the world's largest music service by listeners, opened up the chance for artists to upload directly. Initially, the feature is limited to a few hundred handpicked artists in the US.

SoundCloud Premier pays artists a revenue share of 55 percent for their sound recordings. Spotify, by comparison, pays 50 percent. Like others, SoundCloud pays publishing royalties to whoever owns that right, so if you write and record the music you upload, you'll get those payments too. 

To quality for SoundCloud Premier monetization, your music must be original, with you controlling all the copyrights to it. You need to be 18 years old (or whatever age makes you a legal adult in your country of residence), and you can't have any copyright infringement "strikes" against your account when you enroll. 

Access to Premier will begin with eligible creators who have at least 5,000 plays in the past month from countries where SoundCloud listener subscriptions and advertising are already available: the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and New Zealand. The company plans to widen it over time. 

Originally published at 5 a.m. PT on Oct. 9.
Update, 7:20 a.m. PT on Oct. 10: Revenue share details added.

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