SoundCloud changes the way it pays artists after controversy

Some legal language in SoundCloud's Premier Program made it seem like artists were being given the short end of the stick.

Gordon Gottsegen CNET contributor
Gordon Gottsegen is a tech writer who has experience working at publications like Wired. He loves testing out new gadgets and complaining about them. He is the ghost of all failed Kickstarters.
Gordon Gottsegen
2 min read
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Many artists use SoundCloud as a means to independently put out music.

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Earlier this month SoundCloud  expanded its Premier program to almost all artists paying for a SoundCloud Pro or Unlimited account. The Premier program is SoundCloud's way of paying artists a portion of the revenue that it makes off of their recordings, but it received criticism for reportedly being unfair to the artists.

Critics of SoundCloud's program pointed out that it waived the artist's right to sue SoundCloud. Ambiguity in the program's Terms of Service language also made it seem like SoundCloud would withhold checks for artists that were less than $100 -- so artists wouldn't get paid unless they made more than that per check.

On Monday, SoundCloud decided to respond to criticism by clearing things up. In a blog post SoundCloud clarified the following about the Premier program agreement:

  • You retain all of the rights to your content.
  • You receive a pro rata share of 55 percent of net revenue.
  • You are paid for each calendar month within 45 days of the end of that month, regardless of how much you earn.
  • You have the freedom to exit the program whenever you wish, and can always use any other platform alongside SoundCloud.
  • As with any change to SoundCloud Terms of Use, you will be notified two weeks before we make any changes to this agreement so you can review the changes and agree to them.

SoundCloud says it's updating its Premier agreement to better represent these aspects.

SoundCloud is a platform that many independent and small-scale musicians use to put out their music. By clarifying the way it pays artists, SoundCloud says it hopes to maintain its status as a "creator-first" platform.