SoundCloud is stepping up its streaming fight against Apple and Spotify

Audio ads and promoted profiles will be introduced to keep the service free and pay creators

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2016, 12:36pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2016, 2:28pm

SoundCloud has expanded its subscription music streaming service to the U.K. and Ireland, and introduced new advertising features to monetise the platform as it looks to step up its challenge to the likes of Apple and Spotify.

Eight-year-old SoundCloud allows people to upload tracks. It's best-known as a place to find emerging artists, DJ sessions and remixes of songs.

The German company launched SoundCloud Go in the U.S. earlier this year, offering users access to ad-free music streaming and new songs accessible only to paying users.

SoundCloud has now brought the service to the U.K. and Ireland for £9.99 (US$14.64) or 9.99 euros (US$11.47) a month, putting it on par with Spotify and Apple Music in terms of price.

Earlier this year, SoundCloud signed a licensing deal with Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, adding to an existing partnership with Warner Music Group, in order to bring more music to the platform.

The company claims to have more than 125 million tracks on its service. But around 110 million of those are user-created tracks on the free part of its service. That would give it about 15 million songs that are on SoundCloud Go, less than the 30 million-plus boasted by Apple Music and Spotify.

Many of the early reviews of SoundCloud Go complained that the service lacked full catalogues of music from artists and many of the big stars were missing, something the start-up has said will improve with time.

But SoundCloud's advantage comes from the fact that it has unique content from smaller artists and can help users discover those.

The company will be hoping the expansion of SoundCloud Go can help the company overcome its mounting losses. In its latest public financial filing, SoundCloud made losses of 39.14 million euros (US$45.16) in 2014, up from the 23.11 million (US$26.66) in 2013. But revenues did rise.

SoundCloud also announced that it's free service will be supported by a number of different advertising features, including audio ads, in-stream native ads, promoted profiles, creator partnerships "and more".

"The introduction of advertising will ensure listeners can continue to experience SoundCloud for free, as well as offer creators the opportunity to be paid for the work that they share. SoundCloud Go subscribers will be able to opt out of these ads, enjoying uninterrupted listening as part of the service," the company said.