I really don’t mean to be posting about SoundCloud every single day, but this new article from FACT, nicely summing up the service’s recent headaches and the cause for these issues, is too good to pass up.
Moves like this and the suspension of Dummy’s account aren’t great PR for SoundCloud. In both cases there’s no evidence to suggest they’ve done anything to warrant having their accounts shut down, and it affects the livelihood of both. Dummy, like many music sites, relies on its account to host track premieres from small artists, who in turn get the boost from Dummy’s following. If a music magazine were to lose its SoundCloud account, it could suffer a loss of traffic from a lack of premieres, and smaller artists lose a platform for exposure. But anecdotal evidence suggests this isn’t necessarily the fault of SoundCloud, but of heavy-handed requests from major labels over a licensing impasse that’s been going on for over a year.
SoundCloud has an official line on copyrighted material, but much of what goes on behind the scenes is still unknown to most people. In Dummy’s case, the trigger for its problems was material it claims had been sitting there for years. The goalposts seem to be moved on a daily basis, and nobody really has any idea why, or to what extent.
FACT asked Sony Music for comment on both their policy regarding SoundCloud account takedowns and Dummy’s allegations that it was given the tracks to host by the company itself, but Sony has yet to respond. Sony has every right to ask SoundCloud to remove illegally uploaded or remixed material, but its treatment of Dummy seems especially heavy-handed given the situation, and its silence on the matter makes it seem as if it’s happy to let SoundCloud take the blame.
The potential loss of the platform would have fairly serious implications, not just for small artists but the music industry as a whole. If the service goes the way of Grooveshark, it won’t just be underground artists like Plastician that lose their access to a wealth of undiscovered talent – it’ll be the majors losing their access to the next generation of hitmakers too.