Another day, another claim that The Copyclypse is upon us. Social media today is filled with posts by producers large and small, bigroom and bedroom reporting that SoundCloud has begun yet another purge after dispensing copyright warnings to SoundCloud users, often on what appears to be the most specious grounds.
Interestingly, many of the claims can be traced back to copyright claims by Sony Music, which not long ago had yanked several of its artists from SoundCloud, marking an acrimonious impasse in its negotiations with SoundCloud over licensing.
— dstar (@djdstar) August 13, 2015
We’ve been down this road before. We’re fucking experts at it now. Here is a list of SoundCloud alternatives that we put together and road tested the last time this happened.
But finding “the next SoundCloud” isn’t really the issue here. The legality of what’s being taken down by an algorithm isn’t either.
It’s your fanbase – that number that appears everywhere and makes artists either frustrated or gives them an unwarranted sense of self-importance. It should be rather easy to contact them all and tell them you’re moving on and you’ll all meet up on hearthis.at or mixcloud, right?
Right. And that’s why most artists aren’t going anywhere, as long as their account is still active. Their fanbase ain’t going with them.
It’s been said that we live in an era of “access” – a kind of golden age of artist communications and marketing. Rather than rely upon the faulty medium of the journalist or the tabloid, artists can now talk “directly” to their fans without any intermediary. Well, except for SoundCloud, or Twitter, or Facebook, or…
The reality is that you don’t own your fanbase. You just “access” them. You rent them in exchange for your data. And at moments like this – when you want to end your lease and move to another block – it becomes incredibly clear what the distinction is.
When a site like this implodes or their tracks are taken down without much recourse, the artist is confronted once again with having to build an audience from zero. If you have a million followers it’s a bit easier, of course, but most artists don’t have a million followers. They may have a few thousand followers, accumulated over the course of years. A “follower” is a person who (with some exceptions, obviously) has indicated that they like you and want to receive updates from you. And now you’re a dead link or a gap on that follower’s dashboard, and that’s all.
DAY 2. STRIKE 2. RIP MY SOUNDCLOUD. https://t.co/lEBhWQqzUt
— IAN USHER (@MRSSLEAZE) August 13, 2015
The important thing to realize is that these barriers between fan and artist are entirely artificial. There’s really no reason why they need to exist, other than to impede you from doing exactly what SoundCloud’s frustrated producers want to do: leave.
It would be incredibly simple to ask people on sign-up if they want to share their email address, and allow any customer at any time to export the data for whatever reason. Most of us sign up to receive email updates by artists (in fact, we should be doing it more, considering it’s the only means to have any kind of “ownership” over your fanbase now). The days are long gone when an email address was some kind of a secret gateway to our identities.
I got a strike on my SoundCloud account cos I upload a remix from a competition, in which the Ts & Cs said I can upload after it ended
— BUY S.L.M EP (@slrqxcrls) August 13, 2015
It’s not a shocking revelation to state this. Holy shit you mean the corporations that dominate 21st century communication want control?! But it is depressing how rarely this is addressed, or how little artists or their advisors and managers think about this sort of thing.
That’s why nobody’s leaving SoundCloud, unless they have no choice. Because nobody else is leaving SoundCloud. They can’t afford to lose their audience. End of story.
(The only “social media”-like site I’m aware of that hasn’t done everything in its power to keep fans and artists at arms’ length from one another is Bandcamp. And obviously, Bandcamp is explicitly a marketplace: you can stream but it’s really not meant for that, and I’m sure these tracks would probably be taken down there as well.)
Arrived in Abu Dhabi.. Just got my 3rd strike on soundcloud! I'll give it 2 days before my accounts been pulled… Pissed 😫
— DjStylusUK (@DjStylusUk) August 13, 2015
In the end, despite the clickbait headlines about Yet Another Copyclypse, SoundCloud isn’t going “down” or “collapsing” or entering its death throes. There’s too large of a user base (and too much venture capital already burned) for SoundCloud to go down without a struggle. Many artists who hate it – which I believe SoundCloud has succeeded in making the majority through bullshit like this – will continue using it because they loathe having to build their fanbase all over again.
And some will go elsewhere, but you have to know that you’re just renting your fans there, too.