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How SoundCloud, Apple Music and Spotify are helping kickstart music careers

The streaming services are becoming more and more catered for burgeoning artists.

The battle among music streaming services is not confined to increasing subscription, but to brand themselves as a place where artists – and the more unsigned and emerging, the better – go to kickstart their careers. Despite their denials, they are increasingly taking over the roles of record companies.
 
The latest is SoundCloud which now allows the 200 million creators on their premium tier full 100% ownership of their music, and the ability to distribute their music directly to most major streaming services (including Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, YouTube Music, Tencent and Instagram). The feature is built into the SoundCloud Pro and Pro Unlimited subscription accounts the rights and distribution royalties from the third-party services. Australia is just one of nine countries to get the feature. SoundCloud already has the "First On SoundCloud" rising artist campaign, allowing indie artists to directly upload their tracks onto the service, and expanded its revenue-share direct monetisation program.  
 
Apple Music got further into finding and developing exclusive artists by recently buying up British-based Platoon, a start-up that helps indie musicians get discovered. The small company, which had 12 employees before the acquisition, helps indie artists fund, distribute, and market their content. This includes buying them studio time, access to music editing software, and giving them social media tools and audience data with the idea being for them to build up to larger labels. Those who started via Platoon include Billie Eilish, Stefflon Don, Mr. Eazi and YEBBA. 
 
Apple Music has yet to reveal when Platoon’s operations become part of its services, but it could make a major difference to Aussie musicians. In an earlier interview, Platoon co-founder Denzyl Feigelson said, “I really do think a global artist will break through Platoon and it will change perceptions. You’ve got years of the deep-rooted pattern: ‘In order to be a global superstar you need investment and global infrastructure, you need boots on the ground, you need big money spent on international.’ This is all true, of course, and can certainly work for a select group of artists. But we live in a different world now.” 
 
Last year, Apple introduced the Apple Music for Artists dashboard that allowed artists on the platform to track fans’ listening and buying habits and view a variety of analytics about their music. Spotify and Pandora already introduced such services. As of October, Spotify also has an emerging artist development program called RISE that provides exposure to them by highlighting the stories behind their songs and their career journeys to date. Spotify Australia also has a program to help First Australians to get a leg-up in creating opportunities to get them into podcasts and give their communities a voice.
 
Last week TIDAL also announced a $1 million fund with two philanthropists to fund the launch of new acts by paying for record releases, marketing through TIDAL Rising, and TIDAL premieres. So far it’s only available in the US, but who knows, it might expand globally and end up in Australia as well.