SoundCloud has gotten on a lot of people’s nerves for a lot of reasons; fans, performers and labels have all been up in arms about one development or another on the SoundCloud front at some point. But the DJ community has its own brand of ire for the company, mostly because of SoundCloud’s crack-down policy on remixes. Well, it seems that DJ Detweiler decided to draw them out about it with a confrontational semi-prank. In an attempt to “start a conversation about copyright for fun,” he uploaded his remix of John Cage’s famous conceptual piece “4′ 33.”
As many people already know, Cage’s piece is notorious for simply being four minutes and 33 seconds of silence. And lo and behold, SoundCloud allegedly took it down, just as Detweiler was expecting. But in their defense, they claim that it wasn’t simply a silent track, that it incorporated parts of a Justin Bieber tune, thereby entering into copyright infringement territory. Detweiler’s wry response was to take down all his other SoundCloud tracks and replace them with satirical messages ribbing the company and mocking their copyright policies. Whichever side you take on the topic, one thing is for sure — the copyright wars between SoundCloud and the DJ world have only just begun.
Remember a while back about the ways in which SoundCloud was about to become unpopular? Well, it looks like you can add another one to that list. The U.K.-based performing rights organization PRS For Music has announced that they’re launching a lawsuit against SoundCloud for streaming their catalog without compensation. In an official statement, PRS said that they’ve been trying to negotiate the issue with SoundCloud for five years, and that they’ve finally come to the point where legal action has to be taken.
The statement goes on to explain the details of the problem, saying, “When a writer or publisher becomes a member of the Performing Right Society, they assign certain rights to their works over for us to administer, so it’s our job to ensure we collect and distribute royalties due to them. SoundCloud actively promotes and shares music. Launched in 2008, the service now has more than 175m unique listeners per month. Unfortunately, the organisation continues to deny it needs a PRS for Music licence for its existing service available in the UK and Europe, meaning it is not remunerating our members when their music is streamed by the SoundCloud platform.”
PRS says there are at least 4,500 of their tracks on SoundCloud, who has responded to these claims by taking down a mere 250 of them.
In what may turn out to be a nightmare scenario for music publicists — and not exactly a dream come true for music news sites either — SoundCloud has decided that the free lunch is over. Starting on July 1, 2015, all SoundCloud streaming links shared on other sites or through third-party platforms will expire if the track exceeds 15,000 plays within 24 hours. “What’s the big deal?” you might ask. Well, for more tracks than you might guess, that’s actually a fairly common occurrence.
Where’s this new move coming from? Apparently SoundCloud is reining things in so that they can take care of their own business by maximizing the effectiveness of their new ads. Can’t blame them for that. What will it mean to the rest of us? Well, for the average fan, very little, beyond having to go to the original SoundCloud source in order to stream the song in question. But for artists with a wide audience, or more crucially, for ones who are trying to build a wide audience, it could make spreading the word harder.
And for those whose job it is to help spread the word, like the aforementioned PR flacks, music blogs, et al, it may end up feeling a little like trying to fight in a boxing match with one arm tied behind your back, unless they develop a reliable workaround. Time will undoubtedly tell…