SoundCloud is among one of the largest streaming sites in the world, claimed its chief executive, but unhappy with that, he is keen to differentiate it by redoubling its focus on championing the creative talent that helped build the open music platform in the first place.
The brand has imported and adapted for Europe a marketing campaign that started in the US called ‘First On SoundCloud’. Created largely in-house, the marketing drive is intent on championing seven artists across the UK and Germany.
The chosen few will be spotlit in the app, across #SPFirst playlists, ads, newsletters, social, external sites and PR. Furthermore, they will be immortalised in extravagant out of home murals in London and Germany.
Speaking to The Drum, Kerry Trainor, chief executive of SoundCloud, and former lead of video streaming firm Vimeo, opened up on why he made the move to the music app around 10 months ago.
“I joined SoundCloud because we put creators at the centre, they have always been the core, and the opportunity to now express that in a campaign is really exciting. We have redoubled our focus on the creative driven platform, it is what has always set us apart. We are the place creators can come first to meet the world.”
On the roster are artists Claptone, Jan Blomqvist, Jay Prince, Little Simz, Lotic and Peggy Gou. But many more are invited to join in.
Trainor said: “It is also an open campaign where any artist can tag content #SCFirst and have the opportunity to be amplified by SoundCloud. Anyone can be a part of this and jump in. In the US we had tens of thousands of submissions and we expect to have a great response in Europe as well. We can do something really special for a group who represents the talent and diversity of SoundCloud.”
#SCFirst tweets will be randomly selected and promoted across Twitter to thousands of people with the hope of building their fan bases and getting web users into the habit of listening to music there. Those who use the hashtag will also be considered for inclusion in the SoundCloud Premier monetisation program, which provides them a leading revenue share and additional promotional resources.
To this end, the campaign looks to draw in more creators keen to gain global prominence, which in turn should theoretically bring in listeners. Trainor describes this as a “virtuous cycle”.
With this renewed marketing effort, the company seems to be in a better place. Almost a year ago, it cut 40% of its staff and saw its founder Alexander Ljung announce that he had secured emergency funding to ensure its future of the service. Even Chance the Rapper rallied behind the service that helped build his profile.
Now it is also monetising its creators with Pro and Pro Unlimited tools that give them full control of their music catalog, from scheduling, to increased upload times, and analytics. On the listener side, there is SoundCloud Go for £9.99 a month. As expected, this offers offline listening and cuts out ads and previews. On the advertising side, as of March it also upped its global programmatic advertising offering by working with AppNexus. On offer are 15- and 30-second pre-roll and in-feed audio and video spots.
But it is not just another streaming site, Trainor expressed distaste at the service often being lumped in with closed streaming ecosystems like Spotify, Apple Music and even Netflix. “Often we get painted with the brush of just being a streaming service, we are, but we are built from the creators outward.”
He boasted that the app helps grow artists and it is now leaning into that philosophy again, noting that 10 million of its registered artists are heard every month, across a catalog numbering some 180m tracks.
When asked what the most engaging aspect of the new marketing campaign, Trainor rhymed off the in-app notifications and features that reach a “broad audience” but highlighted that the out of home buys were the most exciting.
“For artists to see themselves on a larger-than-life setting, that also gets reactivated via social in really exciting ways. That real-work activation makes it more tangible and that physical space gets reamplified through virtual space and social etc.
“That level of activation for those artists is incredibly rewarding, it is so meaningful to them, so the response has just been amazing, this is exactly why I love SoundCloud.”