Stormy Weather in SoundCloud Territory: Music Streaming Service Continues to Lose Popularity Among Users

            It’s been a cloudy forecast for SoundCloud lately.

            The self proclaimed “leading social sound platform” that permits users to “listen to and/or create sounds and share them everywhere,” it seems the cloud based audio distribution website might not share the same limitless scope of “everywhere” implied by the term. SoundCloud’s purpose revolves around music accessibility; the website provides a free music streaming service for listeners, and a likewise complimentary ability for DJs/producers to upload original tracks to share with SoundCloud registered purveyors of sound. The concept is in theory, a great one—when it works, that is.

            SoundCloud’s relationship with prominent DJs/producers within the dance music community has been tempestuous at best. SoundCloud previously exercised a strict enforcement of its policy against copyright infringement, causing many posts made by DJs known and unknown alike to disappear from SoundCloud’s orange tinged interface. Although the company eased its standards for music deletion following several intensive rounds of song/mix expulsion in 2016, the company seemed to change its mind in a now deleted post that outlined SoundCloud’s reservation of the right to delete mixes containing “unlicensed tracks.” SoundCloud maintained that deletions would occur with far less frequency than before, but noted the looming possibility if such unlicensed tracks did surface on the popular music streaming site.

            Slushii was one of the many DJ’s to suffer a then debilitating loss on account of the stringent policy: host to an 8,000 followers under the name “DJ Swoon,” the blue haired dub step manufacturer witnessed the close of his account following his posting of an unauthorized remix. Fortunately for DJ Swoon, the account deletion served as a source of inspiration, leading Swoon to adopt a new alias, the “Slushii” so frequently seen photographed with Marshmello, who now appears on festival lineups for events all around the world.

            Slushii's story reflects an unusual--fateful even--brand of success that many self instructed DJs/producers do not, and will not ever experience. While one would suspect aspiring DJs/producers to be the party at the highest risk for account deletion (as those seeking to break into the industry frequently remix popular tracks without authorization in hopes of creating a re-imagination that captures the attention of those with the power to sign new talent to a label), SoundCloud's rigorous patrol of user activity does not halt at the level of the undiscovered. Martin Garrix emerges as the latest example of a DJ to be burned by SoundCloud, after seven of the DJ's twenty-two tracks were deleted seemingly without a reason. Garrix--understandably disgruntled by the random deletions--complains to SoundCloud via Twitter, shown below.

            The tweet has since been removed, and five of the seven deleted tracks restored to Garrix's profile. Regardless, the erroneous deletion of a significant portion of Garrix's SoundCloud posts indicates an ongoing issue with SoundCloud's management of the method by which popular artists share their music with their fans. Garrix is not alone in the frustration of unanticipated deletions; Knife Party recently shared in the sentiment after much of the Australian dance duo's music was removed on the grounds of copyright infringement.

           Much of the mysterious disappearance of music from SoundCloud may be attributed not only to carefully observed policies and action taken upon policy violations, but additionally to Sony's decision to withdraw all of its music from the streaming platform, a decision motivated by "breakdowns in negotiations" with SoundCloud. Reasons aside, the deletions function as a specific form of censorship that inevitably hinders artist ability to provide both older tracks and new releases to their fanbases in an accessible manner.