SoundCloud is a digital music streaming company that gives consumers access to audio content, primarily music and podcasts, via its website as well as mobile apps.
The company, which is headquartered in Berlin, Germany, was founded in 2007 by Alexander Ljung and Eric Quidenus-Wahlforss.
SoundCloud is primarily known as a platform that promotes and works together with independent artists. Many world-renowned performers, such as Billie Eilish or Post Malone, were discovered through SoundCloud.
To that extent, the company provides creators with an extensive set of tools to aid them in being discovered. For example, artists can gather insights about how their audiences interact with the content they publish and adjust their music based on that.
Its premium subscription version, dubbed SoundCloud Go, is available in 30 countries across the globe. This entail most of Europe as well as Australia, Canada, the United States, and a few more. As a result, we only take competitors in those regions into account.
SoundCloud, furthermore, has raised over $540 million in funding and claims to reach 175 million users every month. Hip-hop artist Future recently became the first account on the platform to reach 10 million followers.
The methodology with which the competitors of SoundCloud are ranked is based on a variety of factors. To simplify the analysis, we only take platforms known for music streaming into account. Therefore, platforms that cater to audiobooks or podcasting, for example, Audible or Stitcher, are not being looked at.
Furthermore, where available, data on adoption and usage is taken into account, too. This can entail the number of users, streaming hours, number of employees, amongst others.
This analysis should not be taken as a recommendation to subscribe to a particular streaming platform. It is merely a summary of all the competition that SoundCloud faces as of today.
So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the top 8 competitors of SoundCloud.
Headquarters: Stockholm, Sweden Founder(s): Daniel Ek, Martin Lorentzon Year Founded: 2006
Spotify, being the undisputed leader in music streaming and podcasting, certainly doesn’t need any introduction.
The service, which is available in 180+ countries, boasts over 82 million music tracks and offers access to exclusive content such as the Joe Rogan podcast.
406 million users are registered on the platform. Off of those users, 180 million have opted into its subscription. Consequently, Spotify enjoys the largest market share of any music streaming service with 31 percent of the market captured.
2. Apple Music
Headquarters: Cupertino, California, United States Founder(s): Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Ronald Wayne (Apple founders) Year Founded: 2015
Apple is certainly no newcomer when it comes to music. The iPod became one of the best-selling products ever. Furthermore, its iTunes Music Store, from which Apple Music originated, allowed customers to purchase digital music since 2003.
Apple Music offers more than 90 million songs and is available in over 180+ countries across the world.
According to MIDiA Research, Apple Music has a 15 percent market share when it comes to subscribers (compared to Spotify’s 31 percent; SoundCloud not mentioned). The last time Apple revealed its subscriber count was back in June 2019 when it reached 60 million paying listeners.
3. Amazon Music
Headquarters: Seattle, Washington, United States Founder(s): Jeff Bezos (Amazon founder) Year Founded: 2016
Another tech giant is competing against SoundCloud is Amazon, which offers a music streaming service that features more than 90 million songs.
Subscribers of Amazon Prime will receive a discount when opting into the music streaming platform. The discount makes Amazon Music cheaper than Spotify, Apple Music, and other competing services.
In January 2020, Amazon disclosed that it just crossed 55 million paying subscribers. Recent estimates project that Amazon Music will surpass Pandora as the second-most popular streaming service in the United States (as measured by subscriber numbers).
4. YouTube Music
Headquarters: San Bruno, California, United States Founder(s): Jawed Karim, Steve Chen, Chad Hurley (YouTube founders) Year Founded: 2018
YouTube Music completes the triumvirate of tech giants trying to establish themselves in the music streaming space. It replaced Google Play Music, which Alphabet tried to unsuccessfully establish before, and decided to shut down in September 2020.
The service offers more than 70 million songs and can be used for free (ad-supported) or by paying a monthly subscription fee.
YouTube Music is included in the subscription of the YouTube Premium plan. The opposite, however, is not true for YouTube Music subscribers.
In September 2021, YouTube announced that it had crossed 50 million paying subscribers (for both Music and Premium). Furthermore, two billion people visit YouTube every month to consume music-related content.
Headquarters: Oakland, California, United States Founder(s): Doug Barry, Jon Kraft, Tim Westergren, Will Glaser Year Founded: 2000
Pandora is another music streaming service that, as of 2017, is only available in the United States. It also offers podcasting and even works together with TikTok to feature some of its creators.
The founders had raised close to $1 billion in funding from both venture capitalists as well as an IPO that took place in 2011.
Pandora was eventually sold to Sirius XM in September 2018, which paid a total of $3.5 billion to acquire the company. It was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange as a result of the purchase.
The streaming platform, according to the latest earnings report filed by Sirius XM, currently boasts 52.3 million monthly active users (down from 58.9 million the prior year). Ad-supported listener hours totaled 11.55 billion in 2021, down from 12.50 billion in 2020.
Additionally, Insider Intelligence (previously eMarketer) estimates that Pandora will be overtaken by Amazon Music by the end of 2022 – with Spotify still being the undisputed number one and SoundCloud, again, not being mentioned.
Headquarters: Paris, France Founder(s): Daniel Marhely, Jonathan Benassaya Year Founded: 2006
Deezer offers more than 90 million songs on its platform alongside other useful features such as music recognition software (dubbed SongCatcher), finding new tracks by shuffling one’s phone, and many more.
The service is currently available in 185+ countries. Users can even switch countries to discover what music is popular in which location.
Deezer remains in private ownership, so data is hard to come by. It has raised a total of $531.8 million in venture funding.
Moreover, Deezer currently boasts 16 million active users who have created a total of 100 million playlists.
Headquarters: New York City, United States Founder(s): JAY Z Year Founded: 2014
Primarily known for its famous founder, TIDAL is another streaming platform that competes for listeners with SoundCloud.
In March 2021, the company was acquired by Block (formerly Square) for a total of $297 million. It had previously raised $8.8 million in funding.
Its music library, which is available in more than 60 countries, features over 80 million songs as well as 350,000 videos.
TIDAL has allegedly struggled to push its subscriber count past the 1.5-million-mark. Its inability to push beyond likely became the reason for why it sold to Block. It, therefore, remains to be seen if the backing of a major FinTech company can help it to reignite growth.
Headquarters: Los Angeles, California, United States Founder(s): John Fanning, Sean Parker, Shawn Fanning Year Founded: 1999
This is one for the nostalgic ones. Napster initially began as a file-sharing system but after extensive legal battles was forced to switch to a music streaming business model.
In fact, Napster became one of the first music streaming services and even launched before the likes of Spotify and SoundCloud.
Napster currently offers 42 million songs on its platform. The company, which is now owned by MelodyVR, now boasts a combined 5 million+ users.
Sources: London Stock Exchange
Apart from the above-mentioned companies, there are many other players in the music streaming industry that are still highly impactful.
SoundCloud, for example, does not compete in some of the world’s biggest markets such as China, India, or Russia.
There, local streaming services such as Tencent Music (China), Ganna and JioSaavn (India), or Yandex Music (Russia) are attracting hundreds of millions of users.
Additionally, other streaming services are able to put a twist on the music streaming experience. For instance, iHeart Radio provides users with access to over 800 live radio stations that curate and play music.
It can be concluded that while SoundCloud is able to attract a great number of users every month, it is often not able to monetize them properly.
The above-mentioned research publication by MIDiA doesn’t even bother to mention its subscriber numbers, which are likely in the single-digit millions.
This is because SoundCloud lacks the rights to many artists as it failed to sign partnerships with the major music labels so far.