SoundCloud Finds New Ways To Monetize Music


Berlin-based music startup SoundCloud recently made a few innovations that reveal how it’s becoming the next great music platform on the web. Several new tools show not just how SoundCloud is a great music discovery and streaming platform, but also how they’re making steps toward monetizing music for users on the site.

First up, SoundRain is the brainchild of the startup Minno, which has alternately been billed by its creators as “a new way to buy little stuff on the web” and “spare change for the web.” Minno lets users buy small thing quickly with credit – without having to go through a log in or payment process on third party sites. Minno users can add credit to their accounts by inviting friends or entering credit card information.

To use SoundRain, SoundCloud users need to simply log in through their SoundCloud account, import their tracks and then use SoundRain’s embed code to post the tracks elsewhere on the internet. All tracks are $0.99 and SoundCloud users can cash in once they reach $10. Minno, of course, is only as powerful as its user base. But, if the product catches on and more sites add a “Buy with Minno” button, it could be a very nice revenue stream for music makers.

SoundCloud has also introduced SoundCloud Labs, which recalls Google’s experimental Labs project, in which developers dream up new products for users to test out. SoundCloud has launched Labs with four new apps, which add to the number of existing apps for SoundCloud on mobile, desktop, and web, such as the SoundCloud iPhone app and the iRig recorder app.

One of the new labs is called Social Unlock and it presents yet another way to promote music. Again, users log in with SoundCloud much like they’d do when using SoundRain. Social Unlock creates a page for your song and lets you select design parameters like font and color. The basic feature is a “Tweet For Download” promotion that the user can promote directly on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr, and there’s also a dedicated URL for a song’s SoundRain page that can be posted anywhere on the internet.

When fans want to exchange a tweet for a download of the song, they can log in with Twitter and tweet it to their followers, which in turn unlocks the track for download. After a user has successfully posted the URL to Twitter, they can revisit the Social Unlock promotion page and download the song. While Social Unlock only offers sharing and promotional opportunities now, the system could easily be leveraged for a monetization element. A dropdown for “Type of Promotion” on the edit page is grayed out over “Tweet For Download” – but it wouldn’t be hard to imagine other types of promotional or monetization campaigns that might come in the future.

Other current Labs features include a Gmail song preview feature, a handy file importer, and a Q&A feature.