The co-founder of SoundCloud has told Newsbeat that launching a subscription service is the streaming site's "biggest achievement". Eric Wahlforss said creating SoundCloud Go has been a "huge step" but admitted it hasn't been easy. He said one of the biggest challenges was getting major labels to sign up after rows over artist payment. "It's taken many hundreds of conversations across many different companies over a couple of years." Users will have the option to keep using the site for free or pay £9.99 a month for features including access to the full range of 125 million tracks as well as ad-free and offline listening. Some tracks by bigger artists will only be available for preview in the free version. "It's great for us to be able to do the next important step which is all about revenue for artists," said Eric.
In May last year, Sony pulled all its music from the site after accusing SoundCloud of not providing enough options for it to make money from the music it hosts. It took until March this year to agree a deal with Sony.
"If I'm an artist and I have a lot of followers, I want to be able to make a living doing what I do and that's what we're solving here. That's been a long conversation," said Eric.
The site also has deals with two other major labels, Warner Music and Universal, as well as hundreds of independent labels.With SoundCloud being a key destination for music discovery, Eric suggested these new deals mean SoundCloud Go "captures the full range of music culture" from established artists to DJs and up-and-coming talent. But with anyone able to upload content, copyright infringement is another issue SoundCloud has had to face. "We take copyright very seriously," said Eric. "We've given them [labels and artists] flexibility to be able to put stuff in the free or paid tier. We want the creators and rights holders to be in control over their content and they should be able to decide what can stay up on the platform and what can't. What we broadly agreed with the industry is the fact that generally something like putting up a DJ mix or remix is something that's great and addictive. The new features are important improvements for current users, said Eric.
Despite music fans signing up to the likes of Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal, he thinks there is "room for a couple of different streaming providers". "We're not focused on trying to get people to move from other services. We already have a very large user base [an estimated 175 million]. We are at the very early stages of streaming. In 10, 15, 20 years, we're going to see everything probably moving over to streaming and SoundCloud will be one of the driving forces in that transition."