Streaming audio platform Soundcloud has inked a licensing deal with indie label licensing group Merlin, which represents 20.000 independent labels, including Epitaph, Pias, Warp Records and Ninja Tune. Music from these labels will now be monetized through ads as part of the “On Soundcloud” program, which launched a year ago.
On SoundCloud launched last August as Soundcloud’s first attempt to pay rights holders for music hosted on its platform. The program had over 100 partners even before Merlin signed on, including major label Warner Music, a number of indies and even some YouTube networks, including Maker Studios and Fullscreen. Soundcloud has paid over $2 million to On Soundcloud partners, according to the Guardian.
However, Soundcloud doesn’t just want to make money with advertising. In order to get the rights to content from major and indie labels, it has also agreed to launch a paid subscription service later this year.
Soundcloud executives haven’t revealed many details about that upcoming service, but a recently-leaked contract with music publishers suggests that it will have two tiers: One offering ad-free access to a limited catalog of titles, while another will allow unlimited streaming of a full catalog. This full catalog will likely be similar to what Spotify and others are offering — if Soundcloud gets the rights of all major labels, that is: Last month, Sony started to remove songs from some of its artists from Soundcloud after negotiations between the two parties stalled.